Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
It was cold this morning, it very nearly froze last night. And the forecast for tonight is to get as low as 29 degrees, so it WILL freeze. Once it warmed up a bit we grabbed our jackets and drove about 30 miles west of where we are to see if we could find some Manatee.
Behind the main Visitor Center is a boat dock where we boarded a tour boat which took us about a mile down the very scenic Pepper Creek to the West Entrance to the Wildlife Park.Behind the West Visitor Center is the Wildlife Walk and paved trails for wildlife viewing. This used to be a private operation with zoo animals. Now the State of Florida owns it and made it a State Park. They decided to relocate all animals that are not native to Florida and it is now more of a preserve, sanctuary, and rescue facility.
There is one exception to that. Lu (Lucifer), the hippopotamus, is the only remaining non-native resident here. The local community launched a “Save Lucifer” campaign and the Governor of Florida said he could stay. Lucifer’s birthday is next week, he will be 56 years old, and a birthday party is planned.Manatee like the warm natural spring waters here especially in the winter when the weather cools off. There have been as many as 80 manatee in the pond here. We saw several today, but could not count them. The Fish Bowl underwater observatory floats in the main spring and allows an underwater view of the spring and the fish and manatees. No Manatees were seen by us here but we saw thousands of fish!
There were lots of other animals and birds to see as well as a reptile room. There were North American River Otters too, but they were too quick for me to get a picture! Here are some pics of what we saw. Clicking on a picture will make the image larger.
- Admission: $26 ($13 each)
- Parking: free