A new character at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens was recently cast, as donated by Howard Coker and the Coker family. Cast in bronze by artist Tom Tishler is a nearly life-size Komodo Dragon sculpture that stands guard at the entrance to one of the zoo’s newest attractions, the Asian Bamboo Garden and Komodo Dragon Exhibit. Ribbon cutting for this special exhibit took place on March 6th and revealed the presence of two live Komodo Dragons in a specialized setting.
Komodo Dragons are the world’s largest living lizards. They can grow to a length of 10 feet and weigh up to 200 pounds. These formidable and venomous creatures are an endangered species whose only native habitat is in Indonesia. Only about 3000 are currently thought to exist in the wild.
The Komodo Dragon statue is just the latest demonstration of ongoing support to the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens by Howard and his family. Previously Howard served on the capital campaign that raised $37 Million for the Range of the Jaguar Exhibit. He contributed personally to the fish collection that is part of that exhibit. Howard has also served on the institution’s Board of Directors throughout the past seven years, and is currently the Immediate Past Chair.
Howard Coker was inducted as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens at their annual meeting on October 20. Previously he has served in other Zoo board positions, including Chair Elect, as well as the Chair of the Nominating Committee and on the Development Committee.
While he maintains an active practice as a civil trial litigator, Howard always finds time for what he believes is important. He is the current President of the Florida Supreme Court Historical Society and a past President of both the Florida Bar and the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers. He is also very active in other causes, including Spina Bifida and Ducks Unlimited.
“The Zoo is a wonderful part of Jacksonville’s culture and heritage,” said Howard Coker. “Our Zoo brings both wonder and education to all of our citizens — from the youngest to the most mature. I am very pleased to be a part of this rich resource and hardworking, caring group of individuals.”