Homosassa Wildlife Park: Manatees in rehab and wild in the river

Crystal River Manatee

Probably the easiest and most reliable way to see manatees on the Nature Coast in northeast Florida is at the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, right off the main drag, route 19. You can see female manatees that can’t leave and young manatees that will be released someday getting fed at the Manatee Care Center. Plus, it’s one of the very few places in the area you might get to see wild manatees from the shore (easier on you and the manatees)–provided you show up in January or early February.

Like pretty much all the Homosassa manatee attractions, it’s hard to get your head around where the logistics. The wildlife park used to be a private zoo in Florida’s roadside zoo attraction heyday; the lone hold-over is the hippo, Lu, now 51. Otherwise, it now only takes native wildlife that can’t live in the wild because they were injured, sick or raised in captivity.

The park has a big parking lot and outpost on route 19 but the real action is closer to the shore. You either take a pontoon boat (they leave about every 15 minutes) or you walk. Or, you can just drive there. The park really begins deep in the pretty, winding Spanish moss covered roads of old Homosassa.

Captive manatees getting fed at Homosassa Wildlife Park

Some people will tell you the park only has captive manatees. Not true. Wild manatees visit the area. I heard varying accounts of

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Manatee Week at Animaltourism.com

Last week I went go see Florida manatees by snorkeling, canoeing, by land, by power plant, at a rehab center. This week I’ll review the options for tourists.

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Nova Scotia still paying $20 coyote bounty; Wild bald eagle courts one at zoo

Nova Scotia is going back to barbaric bounties, offering trappers $20 per coyote pelt. They hope to kill 4,000 that way. Finland wolves and ND coyotes also under attack from poachers and snowmobiles.

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Woolly mammoths comeback in 5 years; FL monkeys decline

Japan to clone woolly mammoths soon. FL monkey colony down to 20 animals. Porcupine class in WI. Why Mexican wolves get crappy “experimental, non-essential” label

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Belarus fox shoots hunter–but prosecutors doubt it; Rescued FL bobcat an online hit

Belarus fox shoots hunter–but prosecutors doubt it; Rescued FL bobcat an online hit

Keep reading Belarus fox shoots hunter–but prosecutors doubt it; Rescued FL bobcat an online hit

Squinty possum, Pink Meanie jellyfish, Manatees at heater and a tour of other animal news.

German loves Heidi, a cross-eyed North American possum. Gulf of Mexico has new species: pink meanie jellyfish. Parrot does math for seeds. Manatees huddle in fake warmth.

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A turtle needs back wheels like a fish needs a bicycle & other animal news today

Israeli turtle Tzvika now has back wheels. Drug-Sniffing Dogs Mostly Wrong. Right whales return to FL to calve, get stuck in fishing lines. And other animal news today.

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Manatees Not Showing Oil, But Dying a Lot

Manatee, by Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

So far no manatee has turned up oiled after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill earlier this year. But 656 of the goofy, endangered marine mammals have turned up dead, according to the latest statistics from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. That’s a devastating 13% of the population. The biggest problem was a cold spell last winter, but we may never know if or what role the oil had.

Cathy Beck, who manages the Manatee Individual Photo-identification System (MIPS),  says the oil spill was “extremely worrisome,” but so far no oiled manatees in the area where the oil spread. Their next concern is that the remaining oil will seep into the seagrass manatees eat. They’ll be on the lookout for any oil or dispersant residue this winter when they capture 10 or so (as they do each year) and give them a physical, including testing blood and tissue samples.

Defenders of Wildlife, Save the Manatees and other wildlife groups sued BP saying they violated the Endangered Species Act by harming the 27 threatened or  endangered species that live in the gulf.

Save the Manatees says that the big problem was the cold weather at the beginning of the year, which also lead to spectacular photos and record manatees counts (5,076) as the manatees crowded around natural springs and power plants to stay warm. “In total, more than 300 manatees are believed to have died from this lingering event, shattering the previous

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Animals Have a Busy Weekend Coming Up

Jolly Meets a Horse

Happy World Animal Day and World Farm Animal Day. Around the world, in places you didn’t even think cared about animals, people will demonstrate; party; preach; walk; collect money, food and toys for animals.

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Gruff Coyboy Now Herds 500 Cats in Wee Florida Town

Cat Guards Caboodle Ranch

Craig Grant, a gruff looking 62-year-old who wears a cowboy hat and flamboyant mustache, is an unlikely mayor of an adorable Florida cat city. Years ago one cat insinuated herself into his life in Jacksonville and now he runs the cutest cat sanctuary you’ve ever seen, Caboodle Ranch. More than 500 neutered cats roam a tiny village of wee houses, churches and stores, built specially to house the cat colony on a 25-acre tree farm.

Grant told PlanetGreen recently that he never liked cats till his son left him Pepper for a couple months. “I didn’t like cats, but I agreed to keep him. I wasn’t used to being alone and I guess Pepper wasn’t either. We slowly began to get along,” Craig says on his website. Then he took in more cats, got more complaints and bought land and a trailer 100 miles out of town.  It’s been expanding with abused and neglected cats and their buildings ever since.

“I moved the shed out to the property and made a little cabin out of it. I thought it would be for me, but many of my cats wanted to sleep next to me… so I moved back into the office trailer where we had more room,” Craig says. Now he wants to build a better medical office and has raised $2,500 of the $9,000 needed. His assistant Cyndi notes in the local paper that he’ll probably end up sleeping in there, too, to

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