Ardastra Gardens

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by billmoy on September 25, 2002

Ardastra Gardens are a bit hidden away about one mile west of downtown Nassau. Ardastra is a bit smallish at about 5.5 acres in size, but it proudly bills itself as a zoo, botanical garden, and conservation center. With over 300 animals, Ardastra has the largest collection of Bahamian land animals and makes efforts to preserve many of these endangered species. The star attraction is the Marching Flamingo shows held 2-3 times a day. A local chap named Joe barks commands at the flock of pink Caribbean flamingos (the national bird of the Bahamas), and they march and circle about in this viewing pen. The informative announcer noted that Joe has been doing this flamingo show for over 40 years, and some of the veteran flamingos have been obeying orders for ten to thirty years. Because of their sensitive diet, the animals cannot be given any food rewards so the group applause is encouraged as a form of reward for the creatures. Near the conclusion of each show, members of the audience can step into the ring to pose with the flamingos.

There is no map of the complex, but the animal exhibits are numbered and there are a few red arrows to lend a sense of order. Guests can feed lory parrots by hand or get very close to peacocks walking about unfettered. You can see iguanas, monkeys, calyparas (these guys look like giant hamsters), a pot-bellied pig, Bahama parrots, a cockatoo, a boa constrictor, and much much more! Obviously the animals are the stars of the show, but there is an interesting variety of fruit trees and other flora.

Ardastra has a small snack shop and souvenir shop. The complex is open 7 days a week from 9AM to 5PM. The entrance fee is $12, but practically every tourism brochure or newsletter has a coupon redeemable for a free t-shirt in the store. There are package deals that will include shuttle bus pick up at hotels (usually $20) if you book in advance, but I did not mind the healthy walk west from downtown Nassau.

Ardastra Gardens, Zoo and Conservation Centre
West Bay Street
Nassau, Bahamas

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