Opened in 1936 by two retired moonshiners from Detroit, the Everglades Wonder Gardens was one of the first roadside attractions in the state and remained little changed until 2013, when the family decided to close its doors—and thus a rich chapter of Florida tourism history—forever. In stepped Florida landscape photographer John Brady, who negotiated a lease with the founding family and transformed the old-style cramped zoological gardens (that once featured Florida
panthers, black bears, crocodiles, alligators, and tame Florida deer) into a botanical garden by conserving the flora and fauna following contemporary standards. Now in focus are diverse gardens that include old-growth trees like kapok, banyan, candle nut, egg fruit, plumeria, jaboticaba, mahogany, cashew, avocado and mango, as well as integrated animal exhibits with tortoises, turtles, smaller alligators, flamingos, and a butterfly garden. The original buildings have been preserved and made into a modern gallery that showcases Brady's photography.