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Don Boyd | all galleries >> Memories of Old Hialeah, Old Miami and Old South Florida Photo Galleries - largest non-Facebook collection on the internet >> Miami Area Tourist and Local ATTRACTIONS Historical Photos Gallery - All Years - click on image to view > Late 1950's - a model at the Miami Rare Bird Farm in Kendall (story below)
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Late 1950's From a postcard

Late 1950's - a model at the Miami Rare Bird Farm in Kendall (story below)

Flagler Boulevard (SW 102nd St.) & South Dixie Highway, Kendall

The Miami Rare Bird Farm was a seven acre rare bird breeding farm and a tourist attraction in Flagler Grove at Flagler Boulevard (SW 102nd Street) and South Dixie Highway (US1), a block or so south of where the Palmetto Expressway was later built in the 1960's to connect with US1. The parcel of land was sold on August 3, 1938, for approximately $40,000, to Alton V. Freeman, a retired State Department bureaucrat who decided to get into the animal brokerage business. The parcel of land included the historic Hinson/Rice property that included the first home built in Kendall, now part of the Village of Pinecrest.

Freeman procured and sold wild birds and other animals to zoos in the U. S., Europe and Asia, in addition to research institutes including NASA. After that he decided to become a tourist attraction by becoming the world's largest bird farm and having a giant walk-in aviary where visitors could feed a large variety of toucans, macaws and cockatoos. The grounds were landscaped with man-made pools, benches for visitors, and a large variety of tropical fruit trees and palms.

The most notable of animals at the rare bird farm were two monkeys named Able and Baker and two chimpanzees named Ham and Enos. Able was a seven pound rhesus monkey and Baker was an 11-ounce Peruvian squirrel monkey. They were sold to NASA and they became the first primates to survive space flight. On May 28, 1959 they rode in the nosecone of a Jupiter AM-18 rocket launched from Cape Canaveral and they reached an altitude of 360 miles on a 1,700 mile journey down the Atlantic Missile Range. They withstood 38 G's and a speed of 10,000 MPH on their 16-minute ride. Able died four days later from a reaction to anesthesia during surgery to remove an infected medical electrode. Miss Baker died from kidney failure in 1984 after living 25 years at the U. S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama and 300 people attended her funeral.

The chimpanzee Ham was two years old when sold to the Air Force in 1959. He underwent 18-months of pre-flight training where he was trained to push levers in response to flashing blue lights at Holloman AFB in New Mexico. He was launched into space for a 17-minute 155 mile sub-orbital flight on January 31, 1961. He successfully responded to the flashing blue lights 98 times out of 100. His successful flight paved the way for Alan Shepard to make the first manned sub-orbital flight only three months later.

The other chimp Enos made the first orbital flight for three hours aboard a Mercury Atlas V on November 19, 1961, after undergoing 1250 hours of training. After the second orbit the capsule splashed down just south of Bermuda and Enos jumped for joy and ran around the recovery ship's deck shaking the hands of his rescuers. This flight paved the way for Lieutenant Colonel John Glenn to become the first American to orbit the earth on February 20, 1962. Enos died of antibiotic-resistant dysentery only a year after his successful orbital flight and he is buried in front of the International Space Hall of Fame at Alamogordo, New Mexico.

The Freeman family sold the Miami Rare Bird Farm in 1961 because property values were escalating due to the nearby Palmetto Expressway opening up in the early 1960's. They moved to Spruce Pine, North Carolina where Alton operated the Zoo Animal Refuge for years. He retired to southwest Florida and he passed away in Naples, Florida, at the age of 71 in 1982.

The property was sub-divided into residential and commercial parcels. Dade Federal Savings & Loan Association (later CenTrust, then AmeriFirst in 1979, Great Western Bank in 1992, Washington Mutual in 1997, and finally Chase Bank in 2009) opened a branch office on the southwest acre on US1 in 1963.

All of the above priceless information came from Scott F. Kenward, DMD, a Pinecrest native and dentist, who wrote about the history of the land at this website:
There is considerably more information about the bird farm and additional details of what became of the property at his website.

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