Monkey Jungle – Miami, Florida - Atlas Obscura
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Miami, Florida

Monkey Jungle

Where monkeys run wild and the humans are caged. 

A 30-acre wildlife park established back in 1933 for the exhibition and study of various endangered monkeys living in a semi-natural habitat, Florida’s Monkey Jungle draws in many visitors with its novel and innovative projects and programs. Near the popular tourist destination of Miami, the Monkey Jungle houses about 400 primates in 30 different species, including orangutans, gibbons, howlers, and more.

Update January 2018: The park is temporarily closed for repairs.

At Monkey Jungle, things are the opposite of what most people are used to. Instead of the monkeys being in cages like we’re see at a zoo, the human visitors are the ones caged when they visit this park. The monkeys run loose and visitors walk through tunnel cages that wind through their habitat.

Monkey Jungle began back when Joseph DuMond, a man who dreamed of started the first colony of free-ranging monkeys in the United States, released a small pack of Java monkey from Southeast Asia into a ten-acre patch of Florida land. Joe cared for the monkeys, tended to the space, and slowly grew his little piece of paradise. When Monkey Jungle reached 30 acres, three times its original size, DuMond opened it as a tourist attraction. The Java monkeys, though, didn’t take kindly to DuMond’s move; they attacked the visitors. Unable to cage thirty acres or put the monkeys in a smaller habitat, DuMond caged in the visitors.

The 1980s and ’90s were tough for Monkey Jungle, which was attacked by animal activists upset that some of the park’s monkeys were being dressed up as cowboys and astronauts. People were also upset that King, the Monkey Jungle’s gorilla, was kept in a smaller cage than the rest of the monkeys. Eventually, King was moved into a 10-acre enclosure that he had all to himself.

Know Before You Go

Florida Turnpike exit 11 onto Cutler Ridge Blvd (SW 216 St.). Head west for four miles through several four-way stops. Monkey Jungle will be on the right, just past Naranja Road.