Mayan sculpture at the Palm Beach Zoo, Florida (2013).
The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is a non-profit zoological organization located at Dreher Park in West Palm Beach. The Zoo houses more than 700 animals within 23-acres of lush tropical habitat. The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is a member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The zoo is open from 9-5 daily with the last admission at 4:15. Palm Beach Zoo is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas days.
The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society was opened as Dreher Park Zoo. Paul Dreher founded the zoo after convincing the city of West Palm Beach to buy Bacon Park for 100 dollars. Bacon Park consisted of marshes and a city dump, which were filled in using dirt from the Palm Beach Canal. Dreher used 18 dollars to buy one goat, two chickens, two ducks and a goose to start the zoo. Bacon Park was later renamed Dreher Park. In 1969, the Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches was founded and took over operation of the zoo. In March 1989, the Dreher Park Zoo became accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
A large part of the Dreher Park Zoo’s early history was “Toppie” the Asian elephant. On April 16, 1965, Toppie arrived at Dreher Park Zoo. Toppie was bought by the zoo from Jett’s Petting Zoo using 1,000 trading stamp books collected by local schoolchildren and firemen. The elephant was named after the Top Value stamps used to buy her. Toppie was sold in 1975 at the age of 15 to Lion Country Safari in Irvine, California. She was moved on March 11, 1975 to Lion Country Safari in Loxahatchee, Florida before being moved to California.
The zoo saw major changes starting in 2000. In March 2000, the zoo opened “Tiger Falls”, a new exhibit that was built for bengal tigers “Townee” and “Kali”. The exhibit now houses Malayan Tigers, with which the zoo has successfully had three cubs born. In 2001, the zoo completed the “Florida Pioneer Trail”, an exhibit showcasing animals found in local Florida swamps. The zoo’s interactive fountain plaza opened in 2003, and the 18 million-dollar “Harriet W. & George D. Cornell Tropics of the Americas” followed in 2004. The Palm Beach Zoo opened “Wallaby Station” and “Koala Forest” in 2010, which highlight wildlife from Australia.
In 2009, the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society opened the “Melvin J. and Claire Levine Animal Care Complex”, a five million-dollar animal hospital located on the grounds of the zoo. The Animal Care Complex is the first LEED certified zoo hospital in the United States.
The Zoological Society of the Palm Beaches, Inc. (Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society) exists to inspire people to act on behalf of wildlife and the natural world.