Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is one of Florida's four purchased parks -- previously each was a privately owned tourist attraction.  The most well known of the four are Silver Springs and Weeki Watchee.  Rainbow Springs is the fourth one. Homosassa Springs was the home to Native Americans long before others came, and tourism dates back to the 1880s.  It is located on Florida's Nature Coast. at 4150 S. Suncoast Blvd., Homosassa, Florida, 34448 ( (352) 628-5343).  The Homosassa Spring is a magnitude one spring which produces millions of gallons of crystal-clear water each HOUR, and serves as headwaters for the Homosassa River.

They offer three Manatee programs daily at 11:30, 1:30, and 3:30, 2 Wildlife Encounter programs daily at 10:30 and 2:30, and an alligator/hippo program at 12:30.  All programs come with the $13 entrance fee.

It is basically a zoo that you walk through -- they call it a Wildlife Park Walk -- on a 1.1 mile loop mostly on a raised boardwalk with the animals in enclosures. Here are a few of the animals in their extensive collection, many of which are rescued animals...

A matched pair of barn owls

A matched pair of barred owls

A pair of bobcats which were constantly in motion as I watched them.  (I wish my cat would learn to do something besides sleep!)

A separate building housed the reptiles.  Here are a few examples...

A venomous canebrake rattler

Venomous copperhead

Venomous Eastern coral snake

The flamingos were out in force.  Here are a few of them...

The Florida black bear was asleep, with front paws outstretched. Six orphaned bear cubs were were  raised and then successfully released into the wild last November.

The Nile hippopotamus named Lucifer, who has appeared in many movies over the past 40 years. He is now 54 years old!

One of the many manatees. The cold weather and cold water has these docile and endangered "sea cows" seeking warm water, so they head for Homosassa Spring.  The park has a unique floating underwater observatory giving an unequaled view of fish and manatees. The park is a rehabilitation center for injured and orphaned West Indian manatees.

The endangered red wolf will be joined by a female.  The park participates in the Red Wolf Species Survival project which wants to re-introduce the species into the wild.

They have a large number of colorful roseate spoonbills.

Matched pair of royal terns

Certainly not an endangered species, this little guy was so cute, perched atop a garbage can and munching away...

The whooping crane is the largest American bird at nearly 5 feet with a 7.5 foot wingspan

The colorful wood duck...

A field of wood storks

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