Pipers talk with several prospective buyers about Everglades Wonder Gardens

William DeShazer/Staff
Marilyn Banfield, of Cape Coral, and her granddaughter, Makayla Mitchell, try to spot an otter in one of their cages at the Everglades Wonder Gardens on Monday April 15, 2013. 'We heard it was closing and I wanted her to experience it,' Banfield said. The nearly 80-year-old Bonita Springs landmark will close Sunday April 21.

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William DeShazer/Staff Marilyn Banfield, of Cape Coral, and her granddaughter, Makayla Mitchell, try to spot an otter in one of their cages at the Everglades Wonder Gardens on Monday April 15, 2013. "We heard it was closing and I wanted her to experience it," Banfield said. The nearly 80-year-old Bonita Springs landmark will close Sunday April 21.

Video from NBC-2

— When it comes to selling the Everglades Wonder Gardens, owners David and Dawn Piper have options.

Speaking on Monday afternoon from their Old U.S. 41 site in Bonita Springs, Dawn Piper said she and her husband have had discussions with five prospective buyers in the past two days about the site, which will close under the family’s ownership Sunday.

Two potential buyers are families with local ties, while three others are organizations, she said.

“Right now it’s just a lot of talk and negotiating,” Dawn Piper said. “David would really love to see somebody come in and keep it the way it is.”

All five interested buyers have said they’ll maintain the zoological attraction, Piper said, though it’s unknown whether that could be contractually required.

There’s no timetable for making a decision on the site and its animals, she said.

“It’s definitely not a fire sale,” she said. “We’re just closing the business. The land is going to be for sale, but we don’t have a crystal ball and we can’t tell you what’s going to happen or what the future holds.”

Piper said the family has been surprised at the level of interest in the site and the hundred-plus emails sent by zoos interested in the animals. She declined to disclose a dollar figure the family is asking.

The Pipers are relinquishing the site, which has been owned and operated by the family since 1936, due to an illness.

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