The brothers had visited this hamlet as younger men and had long been students of the wildlife of the Everglades and the regional wilderness. In the late 1930s they opened the Bonita Springs Reptile Gardens that evolved into Everglades Wonder Gardens, and which by the 1950s became Florida’s premier wildlife attraction. The Piper brothers owned and exhibited the world’s largest collection of threatened American crocodiles, and also pioneered captive propagation of the endangered Florida panther. They, and their animals, like “Old Slewfoot” of The Yearling, were featured in major motion pictures. Their Wonder Gardens educated tens of thousands of Americans in the early days of environmental education and eco-tourism. Their mission was clearly stated in their own words, “We have only a sincere desire to give the visitor a clear picture of the thrilling life, dangers, intrigue and constant struggle for existence that goes on in the depths of the impenetrable and fascinating Everglades.” The Piper brothers were undeniably the Wildlife Barons of the Everglades.
Perfect fun for everyone!