The zoo was established in 1994 as the Marion Nature Park, occupying acreage located at the regional flea market, the Markets of Marion. We are presently located in Bushnell, Florida about ten minutes from Interstate 75. We are known for our breeding successes with the South American Jaguar,  the Hawaiian Nene goose, the fourth most endangered bird in North America; and the largest colony of African Patas Monkeys in the Western Hemisphere. 
FITZ's uniqueness lies in our educational goals. We maintain a modest animal collection of rare and endangered species, which allows our zoological professional students to get experience with classes of animals encountered in their future careers. At the same time, the zoo provides an intimate experience for visitors with a guided tour from our students.

History of the Zoo School

 The zoo began in 1994 as the Marion Nature Park, occupying acreage located at the regional flea market, the Markets of Marion just south of Belleview, Florida on US Hwy 441. We established the Zoo Animal Management Course there. We had a nice community presence and our giraffe barn could be seen from the highway. The Ocala Star Banner ran many articles on us, a sampling of these are shown below.

During the height of the real estate boom, we lost our lease and had to move the zoo to a new location. We eventually ended up in Bushnell, Fl in Sumter County because of zoning laws and restrictions in Marion County.  Our new zoo facility is located on Florida State Rd 48 about 7 miles west of I 75.

The Teaching Zoo is smaller now, but finally has room to grow and expand. The animals we are known for, the African Patas Monkeys, the South American Jaguar, and the Hawaiian Nene Geese, made the move with us.  

Since the zoo's primary mission is education, we are offering student guided tours of the animals on weekend afternoons, Saturdays at this time. This teaches the students, and helps provides visitors with an intimate experience lacking in larger zoos.

The Zoo is a 501-c-3 not for profit. We receive no state, federal, or local funding, and rely on admission and our low cost pet vaccination clinics for operations.