Miami Officials Cheer Parrot Jungle's Move To Watson Island As Boon For City

In a deal designed to pump new revenue into the bankrupt city of Miami, Parrot Jungle has signed a 60-year lease and will move to Watson Island, a stretch of waterfront land off the MacArthur Causeway. Parrot Jungle must now turn a barren 18.6-acre parcel on the north side of the causeway into a tropical garden. Half a million plants and trees will be brought to the tract. A decrepit Japanese garden on the island will be moved. The park also will require a new exit ramp and a 500-space parking lot. It is scheduled to open in Spring, 1999.

The park's move is expected to bring the city about $600,000 per year, officials say. That could help defray a $68 million budget deficit that has put the city in financial straits.

The development, which will cost Parrot Jungle $26 million, is expected to help revitalize Watson Island, now largely a refuge for the homeless. "Parrot Jungle will be a magnet for the whole downtown-Port of Miami area," said Mayor Joe Carollo, at a Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce breakfast meeting.

The tourist attraction is moving out of the newly created city of Pinecrest, where many residents opposed its expansion.

Parrot Jungle was opened 61 years ago by Australian immigrant Franz Scherr, who moved to the United States in 1911. The 1930s Depression cut short his career in the construction business and he ended up in Homestead, FL, where he opened a feed store and kept several parrots on display. The birds became a local attraction and Scherr got the idea of creating a tourist mecca. Scherr opened Parrot Jungle in 1936. His son, Jerome, managed the park until its sale in 1988 to Bern Levine and his late partner, Richard Schubot.

1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami, FL
I-95 exit 2D onto I-395 east. Go over the bridge, then make first right onto Parrot Jungle Trail, Follow the road around and under the causeway to the parking garage on the left-hand side.
Daily 10-5 (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
Adults $50, 3-10 $37, plus parking.
RA Rates:
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