The St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park began in the late nineteenth century as a small exhibition of Florida reptiles and became a quintessential Florida attraction. Today it functions as a modern zoo serving the public and the scientific community with educational shows and exhibits, important research and worldwide conservation efforts. The Alligator Farm’s history as an attraction and an accredited zoo is nearly as exciting as zipping across the Alligator Lagoon on Crocodile Crossing, the park’s thrilling new zip-line attraction.
In the late nineteenth century, George Reddington and Felix Fire began collecting alligators on Anastasia Island; they founded the St. Augustine Alligator Farm at South Beach in 1893. By 1910, the Alligator Farm became an established Florida attraction thanks to advertisements placed by the South Beach Railway Company. The Anastasia Island Tram carried vacationers from their accommodations within the city of St. Augustine to the Alligator Farm and other tourist attractions along the island.
The Alligator Farm flourished for more than two decades at its original location. It was included in guide books to the area and was featured in a variety of publications. Exhibiting hundreds of alligators, numerous species of Florida’s venomous snakes and other wild animals, Reddington and Fire’s Alligator Farm earned a reputation as “the world’s largest alligator farm.” A city guide published in 1916 reported that the attraction contained thousands of reptiles. Returning WWI servicemen contributed to the Great Florida Land Boom of the 1920s and the Alligator Farm looked poised to continue its growth as a thriving tourist attraction.