|Tiger brothers rescued by Wildlife Rehab or Hernando|
If you’re looking for an animal attraction in central Florida that doesn’t make you feel icky about how they treat the animals, check out Wildlife Rehab of Hernando. Jimmy Jablon started out taking in local native wildlife–raccoons, alligators, fox–but demand for exotic animals turned out of homes and those creepy roadside attractions.
When you go to the shelter, less than an hour north of Tampa, you’ll get much closer to animals than you would in a zoo and your donation for a tour ($17.50 for adults, $8.50 for kids) will go to help maintain these animals and save others. “We let all the people that come here get close to the animals,” he says. “You stand a foot from the tigers and the monkeys are on a fence next to you.”
Right now Jablon could use the donations, after spending $8,000 for tests and surgery for a 160 pound lion cub that’s now recuperating in his house to ward off infection. Jablon has seen so many of what he calls “photo cubs”–big cats misused to pose for cute pictures when they’re young–that he recognized the syndrome. The cat had been underfed and improperly fed and her skull wasn’t growing to keep up with her brain. Jablon drained more of his savings from working in the insurance business to pay the vet bills, which he had been hoping to get a break on for rescuing the animal.
Recently he did get a big break thanks to Waste Management and Wal-Mart. Rather than take the retailer’s unsold meat to the landfill, Waste Management makes it available to Jablon, who otherwise would have to buy 1,000 pounds of meat a week to keep his carnivores fed. “There’s nothing wrong with the meat. Sometimes it’s still frozen,” he says. Regulations just require removing it after so many days. He’s got no such help with produce: he spends about $23,000 a year on fruits and vegetables.