Wild Life of Key West

Residents of Key West pride themselves on tolerance, and they extend it to animals as well as people.  Chickens, cats, dogs, and iguanas are free to walk the streets and enter most establishments. Duval Street is crowded with loads of gawkers wandering off cruise ships; cars, scooters, and bicycles whizz by in every direction.  Hens guide their chicks along the sidewalks and beneath the cars.  Inebriated folks sleep where they land.  Bizarre and crazy is not just tolerated in Key West, it’s celebrated.

The Cat Man
Saw The Cat Man on his scooter the other day. Check out all those cat carriers. Yes, kitties are in there.

My favorite street performer is The Cat Man.  He trains cats to walk tight ropes and jump through hoops.  (Fresh sushi is involved.)  The cats are amazing, but his flamboyance upstages them.

Chick walking down Duval Street

On one trip I found myself in the middle of the Great Conch Republic Drag Race.  Duval Street was blocked off. The vroom-vroom of cars racing around a track blasted through loud speakers while an announcer introduced competitors.  I pushed through the crowd to see what was going on.  There were no cars, just shopping carts from a local grocery store.  You know the ones with a plastic steering wheel in the front for kids?   A drag queen was stuffed in the basket of each cart.  Men in Speedos ran behind them, trying to push them to the finish line.  If you’d like a visual, follow the link above.


If you’d rather look at architecture and plants, venture off Duval.  It’s a riot of color and beauty, whimsy and kitsch.  The vibrant Key West house colors are no match for the lush gardens surrounding them.   Bougainvillea spill over miles of white picket fences.  You’ll see so many beautiful things.  But you won’t escape crazy.

Tolerance for iguanas is not shared by all.