The author in front of an abandoned zoo enclosure (L) and another abandoned structure in the Crandon Park Zoo's ruins.

The author in front of an abandoned zoo enclosure (L) and another abandoned structure in the Crandon Park Zoo's ruins in Florida.
Joey Hadden/Insider
  • I explored the ruins of a zoo that was abandoned after hurricanes ravaged the area.
  • Nature has taken over the Crandon Park Zoo grounds since it was abandoned, and wildlife like alligators thrive there now.
  • Some eerie, abandoned cage structures from the zoo remain, and I got a look inside. 

Welcome to Crandon Park Zoo, a corner of a South Florida beach where animals were once confined, The Miami Herald reported. Now, it's overrun with wildlife and nature.

Entrance to Crandon Park Zoo on a cloudy day

The entrance to the zoo ruins.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Miami Herald

The zoo was open from 1948 until 1980, when animals were moved to a larger area after hurricanes drowned some of them, according to the same source.

A bulletin board in the zoo ruins

A board full of information on display near the entrance of the zoo.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Miami Herald

In 1991, the zoo ruins reopened as gardens with the goal "not to destroy everything," county planner Kevin Asher told The Miami Herald.

A cage in the zoo ruins

An abandoned zoo structure.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Miami Herald

I visited the park in October to see what remained of the abandoned zoo, and I found a natural wildlife sanctuary. The entrance had a sign warning visitors that crocodiles reside there.

The entrance to the zoo runs

The entrance to the zoo ruins.
Joey Hadden/Insider

According to Atlas Obscura, the ruins are also home to wild alligators, iguanas, and peacocks.

An alligator sign in the zoo ruins

A sign warns visitors not to feed wildlife near a wetland in the park.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Atlas Obscura

While I was there, I saw iguanas, ducks, and herons roaming what remained of the zoo's structures and fenced enclosures.

animals at the abandoned zoo

An iguana (L) and a duck (R) in the park grounds.
Joey Hadden/Insider

The walkways through the park made me feel like I was in a zoo, but one where the animals were free.

Birds on a fence in the zoo ruins

Birds perch on a fence in the park.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Parts of the park were paved while other parts felt like the wild. Some of the lands were once a coconut plantation, according to The Miami Herald.

landscapes at the zoo ruins

Two scenes from inside the park.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Source: Miami Herald

In one shaded area, I spotted what appeared to be an abandoned animal cage embedded in the rocks.

A cage in the zoo ruins

An abandoned enclosure in the park.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Some of the abandoned structures were fenced off and covered in graffiti.

Abandoned structures beyond a fence

A fence blocks access to an abandoned structure.
Joey Hadden/Insider

But one large structure remained accessible.

A cage in the zoo ruins

The largest abandoned structure i the park.
Joey Hadden/Insider

Around the back of it, I noticed caged doors that looked like they were used to feed the animals inside.

Cages at the abandoned zoo

Doors around the back of the abandoned structure.
Joey Hadden/Insider

I was able to see inside of a few of the animals' quarters, which were now empty aside from some leaves, branches, and overgrown vines. The doors were still locked.

Inside cages at the abandoned zoo

One locked cage door on the large structure.
Joey Hadden/Insider

I tried to imagine what kind of animals could live in these spaces. Based on their size, maybe monkeys, I thought.

Inside cages at the abandoned zoo

Inside one of the locked enclosures.
Joey Hadden/Insider

The view inside the structures was somewhat haunting and made me think about the animals that may have gotten stuck inside as hurricane waters filled their enclosures.

Inside cages at the abandoned zoo

Inside another locked enclosure.
Joey Hadden/Insider

I left the park thinking this is probably a better home for the wildlife that took it over.

The cage inside the grounds.

A shaded area inside the Crandon Park Zoo.
Joey Hadden/Insider

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