October 14 & 15, 2017: Free Weekend for Collier Residents
- $5 Admission for All Florida Residents -
Naples, FL – With significant progress made on tree care and repairs, Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens has assessed the remaining efforts and set a re-opening date of Saturday, October 14, 2017. To welcome the community back into the zoo and historic gardens, Collier County residents will be free and all other Florida residents will be just $5 each for adults and children all weekend long on both October 14th and 15th. Guests will once again enjoy all the daily zoo activities including cruising through the islands of primates, watching shows, and seeing their favorite animals from anteaters to zebras. Currently, donations for recovery efforts are being accepted at www.napleszoo.org/give and returning guests will also have the opportunity to help the animals and plants at the zoo as well.
“Floridians have been through a stressful time with the impacts from Hurricane Irma,” reflected Naples Zoo President and CEO Jack Mulvena. “With the support we have been shown, our staff felt strongly that we wanted to give back to the community with this weekend. We could all use a relaxing day enjoying time with loved ones doing normal activities. And nature is restorative. Walking in the garden and enjoying wildlife is simply good for your soul. I believe we could all use some of that right now.”
While donations can help rebuild exhibits and structures in weeks or months, the winds of Hurricane Irma removed decades of growth inside the botanical garden in just a few hours – including two nearly century-old specimens planted by gardens founder Dr. Henry Nehrling. The zoo’s horticulture team alongside multiple crews of arborists from The Davey Tree Expert Company is on-site conducting extensive tree care. Donations are also being accepted for these efforts as well as establishing new plantings for future generations to enjoy.
Recovery has been expedited by a tremendous team effort between staff and volunteers – and even crews coming from as far away as Kansas City Zoo, Oklahoma City Zoo, Sedgwick County Zoo, St Louis Zoo, and Topeka Zoo. Naples Zoo has also received wonderful support from other zoos sending needed equipment, checks coming in the mail, and even online donors who purchase items through their Amazon wish list: www.tiny.cc/zooneeds. All this has enabled the zoo to open in about the same amount of time as that following Hurricane Wilma in 2005, even though the damage was more severe with Hurricane Irma.
“We look forward to seeing our zoo members and all our friends again,” said Mulvena. “Talking to guests on the pathways, seeing the cruises out on the lake, and just watching our amazing staff and volunteers getting back to what they love doing every day is part of the healing process for all of us.”
Residency for this special welcome back weekend can be easily confirmed with a driver’s license with a Collier County or Florida address or a utility bill with a matching name photo ID.