Arthur A. Jones (November 22, 1926 – August 28, 2007) was the inventor of Nautilus exercise equipment and the founder of Nautilus, Inc. and MedX, Inc. and the inventor of the Nautilus exercise machines, including the Nautilus pullover, which was first sold in 1970. He was born in Arkansas, and grew up in Seminole, Oklahoma, and after the war he became an animal trader and he owned the zoo Reptile Jungle, in Slidell, Louisiana. Jones was also a big game hunter: “I’ve shot 630 elephants and 63 men, and I regret the elephants more,” he once said.
57-year-old Arthur Jones married 18 year old Terri Thayer and bought the estate in Ocala in 1980. and 98 elephants are said to have lived at Arthur A. Jones property Jumbolair, which was more than the total population if African elephants in all Zoos in North america. Before animals and Mr Jones, the owner was the society lady, Muriel Vanderbilt Adams. The great-great-granddaughter of the founder of the Vanderbilt fortune, Adams wintered here and raised exotic birds. For a brief spell, Jumbolair was owned by Jose Antonio Fernandez, the Miami ringleader of a large drug operation. After the couples divorce, until 2019 the owner was Terri Thayer, and Jumbolair Aviation Estates was home of the worlds largest, FAA licensed, lighted and paved, private airport. One member of the community was John Travolta.
1980: Arthur Jones bought the property in 1980 and before long, the wealthy couple had created a farm country curiosity: airport, private home, wild animal sanctuary and celebrity resort. Arthur Jones kept a gorilla, three white rhinos, 600 crocodiles and 500 snakes on his farm, a 550-acre estate in Marion County, as well as 17 African elephants.
1984: Last July the couple flew their Boeing 707 to to Barbados where it fueled up; then it continued nonstop 6079 nm to Wankie Nat Park in eastern Zimbabwe. There a herd of 63 baby elephants slated for government slaughter were airlifted. The rescue entitled "Operation Elephant" was featured on ABC's 20/20.
1984-1987: According to Dale Tuttle, director of Springfield Zoo, 10 elephants died between 1984 and 1987 from transport stress, wounds and diseases. 37 elephants were sold to Zoos and Circuses in USA and Mexico before 1987.
1987: 49 elephants were still at the farm when Mr Tuttle visited. According to Mr Tuttle their health was excellent, each one of the elephants had individual collars and check-ups, and they were managed by elephant keepers, special dentists, and the veterinary university of Gainesville.
1989: The jet set days ended when Jones and Thayer divorced in 1989. They donated their animals to parks and zoos, and put Jumbolair on the market with Sotheby's auction house for $11.2-million, but Thayer bought out her ex-husband's interest in the land.
1995: Thayer began to plan an aviation community for celebrities.
2007: Jones died on August 28 from natural causes at his home in Ocala, Florida, at age 80. He was survived by two daughters and by two sons, Gary and William Edgar Jones.
2019: Jumbolair was advertised for sale.