Peace River Wildlife Center
By: Kayley Vaughn
Here in Florida we have an assortment of natural attractions such as beaches, swamps, forest, and large grassy fields which animals will graze in. Of course we’ve all wanted to see animals in their natural habitat yet some animals can’t return to their native homes due to severe injuries from predators and poachers. Even littering has caused some animals to be sent to the Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda, Florida, a non-profit organization that focuses on preserving the wildlife of Florida. The majority of animals here are birds yet squirrels, rabbits, and turtles are also in their care. Here animals with injuries that would overall impact their life in the wild can live peacefully with the care of the volunteers.
Now out in the wild birds don’t really want to flamingle with us humans but at the Peace River Wildlife Center we can get a close up view of some of Florida's elusive birds. Birds like Pelicans, sometimes called ‘penguins’ by the volunteers as a joke, will happily splash in their lazy river pool for onlookers and during feeding time even come right up to the fence as if they’re asking us “More fish please!” Graceful Sandhill Cranes and cormorants share this space with the Pelicans as well in the open air enclosure. This means wild birds can visit the PRWC resident birds anytime during the day; this creates good social bonds for the animals and allows children of the birds to visit their parents. One resident doesn’t have any kids but a wild posse instead. A fish crow named Spirit, who use to be a pet, has enlisted the help of several other wild fish crows to bring her food such as wild berries and even little fish. You can ever catch her saying ‘Hi!” or “Hello!” to visitors once in a while.
There are 100 and more birds living at the PRWC each with their own story such as Luna the leucistic screech owl, Flat Stanley the turtle, and Squiggy the squirrel but these are stories best told by the tour givers. Tours are given every day from 11am - 4pm and if you want to watch the Pelicans being fed it starts at 2:30pm. The feeder will share some information about the Pelicans on who they are and what their daily life is like at the center. If you’re looking for something more when visiting these birds consider becoming a volunteer where you can help prepare food, feed, and clean up after all the birds. PRWC also have events to help raise money to continue caring for all the birds that live there, click here for their event calendar.
(Here is Luna working in the office and keeping a diligent watch over his workers)
So if you’re looking for a place to see animals up close as well as hang out in the shady park nearby consider stopping by the Peace River Wildlife Center.