The St. Augustine Alligator Farm is the first and oldest alligator farm in the United States. Located on Anastasia Island, Florida, the farm was created by George Reddington and Felix Fire in 1893. And by the late 1910’s, St. Augustine Alligator Farm became an established Florida attraction. Around this time, they boasted that their farm had a “complete collection of deadly snakes found in Florida.” Advertisements issued in 1916 stated that the farm now included thousands of reptiles.
After a string of fires and storms in 1920-1921, Fire and Reddington relocated the Alligator Farm inland from Anastasia Island to the city of St. Augustine. Ownership changed in 1937 when Reddington, who by now had bought Fire’s interest, sold the Alligator Farm to W.I. Drysdale and F. Charles Usina. The new owners began actively promoting the attraction nationally. The farm also became known for other things besides alligators and reptiles. According to its website, the farm now included “ostriches, crocodiles, Galapagos Tortoises, a variety of monkeys and birds, and many examples of Florida wildlife. The museum also contained a number of mounted marine and terrestrial specimens.”
In the last few decades, St. Augustine Alligator Farm continued to grow and was accredited by The American Association of Zoological Parks and Aquariums (AZA) in 1989. This accreditation meant that it was recognized for the quality and the good treatment the animals received and the honor showed in a slight name change – St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park. The website sums it up best when it states that even through all the years and ownership changes, “St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park is a successful example of a small, privately owned specialized zoo.”
Photos and information: St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Farm