Sunday, October 24, 2021

Garden Club Visits Naples Zoo

Submitted Photo | Garden Club members in front of “American Sea Star,” part of the “Washed Ashore” exhibit.

Calusa Garden Club members Donna Kay, Sue Oldershaw, Barbara Messner, Sara Wolf, Kimberly Korb Porter and Jacquelyn Pierce recently visited the Naples Zoo and Botanical Gardens with the goal of examining some of the zoo’s 3,000-plus tropical plants.  

The Naples Zoo was established as a zoo in 1967 when “Jungle Larry” and “Safari Jane” (Larry and Nancy Jane Tetzlaff) worked with the Fleischmann family, who owned Caribbean Gardens, to move their animals from the Midwest to the Naples site. However, the Caribbean Gardens were already there.

The gardens were established in a farming area north of the City of Naples (the current location) by Dr. Henry Nehrling, a botanist and professor who collected over 3,000 tropical plants and moved them to a farming area north of Naples in 1925. Dr. Nehrling’s work in the Caribbean Gardens continued until his death, and when Julius Fleischmann began buying property in Naples and developing real estate, he began the task of reviving the gardens in 1952.  Even after the Caribbean Gardens became the Naples Zoo, the zoo’s botanical staff continued to enlarge the plant collection, care for the old established trees and plants, and carefully curate the plants.

Eleven sculptures make up the traveling exhibit, “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea;” a consciousness-raising exhibit. Oregon sculptor Angela Haseltine Pozzi started making large-scale sculptures entirely from materials she found on the Oregon Pacific coastline. Other sculptors began collaborating with Pozzi to make sculptures that illustrate the hazards to sea life caused by plastic, rubber and other nonbiodegradable materials that are disposed of in the oceans and beaches. Each sculpture is accompanied by a plaque that tells the story of the harm caused to our ocean life by these discarded materials and encourages people to stop polluting our seas.  The nonprofit organization that organized and promotes this exhibit is

Calusa Garden Club of Marco Island is a member of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs and membership is open to those interested in horticulture, floral design and environmental matters residing five months or more in Collier County. Calusa Garden Club meets the second Monday of each month, October through March, at Wesley United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall, 350 S. Barfield Drive, Marco Island.  Business meetings begin at 12:30 PM and programs begin at 1:15 PM.

Calusa Garden Club welcomes visitors interested in our educational programs and visitors interested in membership.  Contact the Garden Club at, or on the Garden Club’s website,, or visit the Club’s Facebook page Calusa Garden Club.


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