I explored the ruins of an abandoned zoo on the coast of Florida, and it was completely overrun by nature

  • In 2021, I explored the ruins of a Miami zoo that was abandoned after hurricanes ravaged the area.

  • Nature has taken over Crandon Park Zoo since then. Crocodiles and other wildlife thrive there now.

  • Some eerie abandoned cage structures from the zoo remain, and I got a look inside.

On a corner of a South Florida beach, animals were once confined at the Crandon Park Zoo, according to the Miami Herald. The zoo was established in 1947, according to CBS Miami, and remained open until 1980, when animals were moved to a larger area after hurricanes drowned some of them.

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

I visited the park in October 2021 to see what remained of the abandoned zoo, and I found a natural wildlife sanctuary.

The first thing I noticed at the abandoned zoo was a sign on the entrance warning visitors that crocodiles live there.

The entrance to the zoo runs
The entrance to the zoo ruins.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

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

The walkways through the park made me feel as if I were in a zoo — one where the animals were free.

Birds on a fence in the zoo ruins
Birds perch on a fence in the park.Joey Hadden/Business 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.

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/Business Insider

I thought it looked like it could have been a unique, immersive attraction and wondered what animals may have lived there decades ago.

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/Business Insider

I peered over high, chain-linked fences and spotted remnants of vandalized structures.

But one large structure remained accessible.

A cage in the zoo ruins
The largest abandoned structure in the park.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

It appeared to once house multiple cages.

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

Inside cages at the abandoned zoo
Joey Hadden/Business Insider

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

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

Inside cages at the abandoned zoo
Inside one of the locked enclosures.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

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

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

trees in the zoo ruins
Trees inside the park.Joey Hadden/Business Insider

After my visit, the zoo celebrated its 75-year anniversary of serving the community in November 2022, CBS Miami reported.

Read the original article on Business Insider