Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Florida History: Fort Lauderdale's Sunrise Blvd. - Where lions once roared

The site of present-day Gateway Shopping Center, where Sunrise Blvd. and U.S. 1 merge, was once a rock pit and breeding spot for lions. The McKillop-Hutton company launched operations here in 1936 to raise the big cats and other animals for circuses and the zoo trade. Celebrated animal trainer, circus owner, and one time big-game hunter Clyde Beatty (b. 1903 - d. 1965), purchased the pit and its lions from McKillop-Hutton in 1939. Clyde Beatty’s Jungle Zoo opened on the site and proved to be a popular South Florida attraction.

The roaring of lions, and monkeys escaping into homes of the adjacent neighborhood eventually forced reluctant city officials to use zoning ordinances to close operations in 1945. The Gateway Shopping Center was developed over the old rock pit in 1950.  Copyright ©2010 Jane Feehan. All rights reserved.
(Check archives for other Florida history facts.) 

Weidling and Burghard. Checkered Sunshine. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1966
Internet Movie Database - www.imdb.org
Circus History – www.circushistory.org

For the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, visit: www sunny.org

Tags: Fort Lauderdale history

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