Florida's Best Wildlife Sanctuaries

By
Shawn Menard
Florida's Best Wildlife Sanctuaries

 

With climates ranging from humid-subtropical to tropical, and with bits of savannah and rain forest biomes peppered in, the Sunshine State is a haven for endangered and mistreated animals. From native species to more exotic walks of life, experience these creatures in their natural splendor free from harm. Become more acquainted and educated with those whom we share our home by visiting the best wildlife sanctuaries in Florida.

 

Seacrest Wolf Preserve

Seacrest Wolf Preserve

Return to nature with humanity’s primal companion. At Seacrest Wolf Preserve, enjoy a hands-on experience with Gray, Arctic, and British Columbian wolves in large, open habitats and learn the plight of these majestic creatures. Gain profound insight into wolves and how we are all intrinsically connected to nature as a whole. Tours are expected to be about 4 hours long with breaks in between to interact with the other residents of the preserve including foxes, skunks, and raccoons.

 

Rooterville Animal Sanctuary

Rooterville Animal Sanctuary

Originally a refuge for abandoned pot-bellied pet pigs, Rooterville Animal Sanctuary has grown into a 30-acre haven for over 400 rescued farm animals from cows to goats. Feel free to embrace free-roaming pigs that approach you and prepared for the flop! - pat them on the side of their bellies, and they will fall to the ground for more pats. Rooterville is open to the public for self-guided tours but also provides guided tours of the farm.

 

The Catty Shack Ranch

The Catty Shack Ranch

The Catty Shack Ranch is home to endangered big cats rescued from dire situations. The ranch is the premier destination in Jacksonville for locals and tourists alike to experience lions, tigers, pumas, leopards, and lynx outside of their natural habitat and in their accommodating enclosures meticulously crafted for their enrichment. Along with these exotic felines, the ranch is home to “honorary cats” - foxes and coatimundis (mammals related to raccoons).

 

Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary

Big Cat Rescue Sanctuary

Located north of Tampa, Big Cat Rescue saves and houses exotic cats, big and small, while rehabilitating injured or orphaned local wild cats. The sanctuary has been a strong proponent for the end of private ownership and trade of exotic cats and has fought for their position through legislation and extensive educational programs. Guided tours are 90 minutes long and for ages 10 and up. Come to witness the glory of these exotic animals and leave knowing a bit more about the impact certain actions have on their well-being.

 

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

“Rescue, rehab, release, educate” The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary motto! Learn to love and respect all living creatures by visiting the sanctuary located in Jupiter, Florida. Here you will discover the varied wildlife of Florida through close-up educational encounters with animals taking refuge at the sanctuary - or walk along nature trails through oak hammocks, pine flatwoods, and cypress wetlands. The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is home to native animals such as bald eagles, deer, otters, bears, alligators, foxes, and Florida panthers!

Central Florida Animal Reserve

Central Florida Animal Reserve

Drive an hour from Downtown Orlando, and you’ll happen across the Kings and Queens of another jungle! A domain of lions, tigers, leopards, and pumas - the Central Florida Animal Reserve at St. Cloud, Florida is a non-profit refuge for rescued big cats that offers guided walking tours by knowledgeable staff. Make sure to book a tiger yoga session in advance as space is limited! Stretch and yawn like a tiger waking up from a 14-hour afternoon nap in this all-levels yoga class.

 

Croc Encounters

Croc Encounters

For crocodilians, millions of years of adaptations could not prepare them for the rapid development of humanity. Even these creatures of the ages need a haven in our modern world, and many have found sanctuary at Croc Encounters Reptile Park and Wildlife Center. Accepting of reptiles that regularly face rejection from most animal shelters, the center provides refuge and rehabilitation for alligators and crocodiles, alongside various snakes, lizards, amphibians, turtles, and tortoises. Come to Croc Encounters, and have your fears and misunderstandings for these ancient reptiles replaced with respect and understanding.

 

Endangered Animal Rescue Sanctuary

Endangered Animal Rescue Sanctuary

“Preserving with Dignity.” The entire existence of the Endangered Animal Rescue Sanctuary is for the care of rescued unwanted or abused exotic and domestic animals that would not otherwise survive release. Big cats, small cats, bears, and capuchin monkeys call this home and eagerly welcome visitors to learn of their trials and tribulations. For the only resident liger, the mighty Odin, the sanctuary is a worthy Valhalla in which to reside.

 

C.A.R.E. Foundation

C.A.R.E. Foundation

The C.A.R.E. Foundation of Apopka is more than a refuge for over 200 exotic animals - it is a repository of information on local and foreign wildlife. The foundation houses big cats, bears, monkeys, birds, crocodilians, and assorted reptiles and connects with other animal sanctuaries to find homes for non-releasable animals. Learn the importance of conservation efforts and become inspired to make a change! Its wildlife education facility offers private tours to learn the individual stories behind their animal residents, and how non-profit refuges care for exotic animals.

 

McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary

McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary

Need a break from swimming? Head west inland from the beach to McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary and discover why it is the number one attraction in West Palm Beach. Mark McCarthy has worked professionally with animals since 1872, when he founded his non-profit sanctuary to give refuge to exotic and native wildlife. The sanctuary provides rehabilitation for native orphaned or injured bird species including eagles, owls, hawks, and ospreys. The majority of the big cats at the sanctuary are retired entertainment or zoo animals and confiscated illegal pets. A tour through the facility will guide through the reptile room - an exhibit filled with all manner of reptiles and amphibians such as Gila monsters and jumping vipers!