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RESTORING THE WONDER: Everglades Wonder Gardens begins restoration project

After relationship with city repairs
Posted at 10:56 PM, Apr 24, 2024

BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — The Everglades Wonder Gardens entered a new 10-year partnership with the City of Bonita Springs. Now, there are some big changes coming to the zoo.

It's been anything but easy since Hurricane Ian flooded the Gardens with three feet of storm surge, but now, the facility is in the midst of recovering.

"We've had flamingos that had to go home with staff, other small birds that had to go home with staff, we put the tortoises in my office,"said Neil Anderson, the Wonder Garden's CEO, referring to the days leading up to and following the storm.

He says it's the tireless dedication of the Garden's staff and volunteers that have kept it alive and now the focus is on "restoring the wonder."

Anderson comes to southwest Florida with experience in revitalizing zoos. As soon as he stepped into the role, he became aware of the Wonder Garden's relationship with the city, which we reported on FOX 4. Now, both entities are on common ground.

"We had a whole risk assessment study done and that was a part of the master plan," he said.

During the study, Bonita Springs City Councilors requested bathrooms at the Gardens be in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. During a city council meeting in late 2023, there was public discussion about asbestos remediation in the administration building.

While the Wonder Gardens catches up to speed on code compliance, there are stylistic changes to the property Council is now allowing.

This includes but is not limited to a new exhibit called Tortoises of the World, a 10-feet high canopy tour that leads to a tree house, and a better view of the gators.

Everglades Wonder Gardens begins restoration project

"We can't wait to get everybody involved with renewing the wonder, because we want this to be here for generations to come," Anderson said.