Ross Allen Reptile Institute
E. Ross Allen was a pioneer promoter and theme-park entrepreneur who achieved national and international fame for his animal wrestling. Born in 1908 in Pittsburgh, he was an Eagle Scout as a boy and later a stand-in for Johnny Weismuller in the Tarzan movies. He transformed the historic, natural tourist attraction of Silver Springs into a prototype of modern theme parks. Ross Allen’s Reptile Institute opened in 1929 and catered to Florida traditions (and mythology) while employing Florida residents, including Seminole Indians. The institute later shifted its emphasis a ...