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Gators and ligers and (discounted) fares, oh my

South Florida natives probably remember field trips to old-time attractions like Zoo Miami (Metrozoo back then), Miami Seaquarium and Parrot Jungle (now Jungle Island). Millions of people visited in 2010, and our cover story in today's Business Monday section explains how these local fixtures are trying to draw more visitors as the economy continues to recover from recession. One sure bet: Offer deals, as several are doing this summer.

Some other examples include:

Camel *Introducing more interactive experiences, like the upcoming "Crazy for Camelids" offer at Jungle Island that includes quality time with a camel, llama and alpaca or the Sea Trek helmet dive that debuts at Miami Seaquarium in July.

*Building new things to see, like the $25 million addition at the Museum of Discovery and Science in Fort Lauderdale that will add a two-story river otter exhibit, a simulated airboat ride and a hurricane experience. Zoo Miami saw attendance increase more than 30 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year after the opening of the Amazon and Beyond exhibit. The next major expansion, which focuses on the Florida Everglades, is slated to open in 2014 or 2015 

*Riding the pop culture wave, like they've done at Billie Swamp Safari on the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation. Promoters use Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about events and sold more than 1,100 deals through Groupon earlier this year. Park employees are also featured in a reality TV show called Swamp Men, which motivates an estimated 10-20 percent of visitors.

Read the story (and see plenty of pictures) here.


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