Thursday, January 24, 2013

Ghost Zoo--McKee Jungle Gardens Revisited


1954--Dedication of the wild animal compound at McKee Jungle Gardens near Vero Beach will be held Sunday with Zoo and Circus directors from all over the nation attending, Here an elephant arrives at the compound, which will be a supply and storage base for animals to be shipped to North American zoos and circuses. From left are Herman Bryant, helper; Bud Williams, caretaker; G. B. Hutchinson, supervisor; Dick Speyer, general manager, and Bill Chase, owner of a wild animal farm at Egypt, Mass.

'I did not realize Bill Chase had a place in Massachusetts before moving to the Miami area.  Does anyone know more about that?  Has there ever been a book written about the famous(and not so famous) animal dealers of the past?  I personally think it would be a fabulous read.'  


The Circus "NO SPIN ZONE": Ghost Zoo--McKee Jungle Gardens ..


Anonymous said...

Some small additional information on Bill Chase. Alan Shoemaker compiled a list of animal dealers some time ago with the following information on Bill Chase. Ralph Curtis was working on a history of animal dealers but do not know how that is progressing. From Alan's list: Charles P. Chase Co., CHASE B, Miami, FL. A prominent bird importer and general
source for species, the firm initially specialized in South American fauna before
expanding to global sources. Beginning business shortly after WW II in Egypt,
MA, the Chase Company moved to Miami in the early 1950s. This firm was the
source for many pygmy hippos, giant anteaters, and South American tapirs. The
owner, Bill Chase, died in the early 1980s and the company is no longer in
existence. Vernon Kisling

Wade G. Burck said...

Dr. Kisling,

Thank you very much for the great information. You can indeed be counted on for the real skinny. I met Bill Chase in 1973 when I was working at Jungle Larry's African Safari in Naples. Walt Galloway the Zoological Director and I went out one night on a "snake safari" and caught a bag load of bull and king snakes. We swapped them to Bill for some mud turtles. I surely hope Ralph Curtis is continuing with the animal dealers history book. What a super read that would be.


Michael said...

I grew up in South Florida and used to go to the Chase facility in Miami to purchase reptiles from the late 60's to early 70's. From my understanding Bill started his business (Chase Wild Animal Farm) in the 30's in Egypt, Mass., eventually moving to a larger 150 acre location in/near Halifax, Mass. in 1955 and then to Miami (as the Charles P. Chase Co., Inc) in 1956-57. He also maintained an animal compound in West Africa. In Miami, he moved a couple of times, eventually ending up in the NW 66th street location. I last saw Mr Chase near his Miami home in 1981. Michael

Michael said...


I am in the process of a writing project concerning reptile dealers and would like to know where the photo of Bill Chase at McKee gardens came from. And, do u have a contact email?

Any info would be appreciated.

Regards Michael