Animals at Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park & Poems about Some of the Animals

My daughters, Katey and Ellen in front of Pippa, the Hippo’s, cage. Pippa is the only exotic animal at Homosassa Wildlife State Park. The beloved sixty-one-year-old hippo was granted official Florida citizenship by the governor of Florida when the zoo transitioned to a wildlife park for Florida animals many years ago.

The majority of the animals at Homosassa Wildlife State Park are rescued animals that are unable to survive in the wild: manatees injured by boat propellers being rehabilitated in the manatee rescue center, animals who were hit by cars, birds unable to fly because of impaired vision or injuries to their wings, endangered squirrels and other rare animals raised illegally in captivity and confiscated from their owners.

The whooping cranes were from a program to reestablish these endangered birds in Florida. The female whooping crane has impaired vision and cannot fly. The male found her at Homosassa Wildlife State Park and joined her in her enclosure. He could fly away, but he stays. Whooping cranes mate for life, and this is a very touching pair!

The tropical bird enclosure, like most of the enclosures, is open at the top. It has a stream running through it and is shaded by lovely trees. I saw egrets, once hunted almost to extinction for their mating plumage, flying into and out of the enclosure. They are free to visit, or maybe they are choosing to live there.

The marine fish seen from the underwater observatory under the main spring migrate seasonally, as do the manatees in the Homosassa River near the hot springs. Public boat travel is restricted in this area to protect these migratory animals.

American flamingos, extinct in Florida for over 100 years, were discovered about ten years ago living in the Florida Everglades. No one knows for sure how they got there, but they probably came from Central or South America. We are thrilled to have them living in the wild in Florida once again. I don’t know if the flamingos in the tropical bird enclosure are rescues or are part of an effort to reintroduce them to their former range.

Alligators, hunted almost to extinction for their hides, are now protected and are once again plentiful in Florida. Programs now collect a few young alligators from their nests, raise them to a size where they can defend themselves from predators, and release them to ensure their continued success in the wild.

The black vultures, handsome lively birds, live at the park by choice, but they are a welcome clean-up crew. We saw them stealing what appeared to be fresh-cut grain from the hippo after they ate the insects from his back. We saw them visiting the black bear and perched in the trees.

The red wolves are endangered and are part of a captive breeding program to reintroduce them into Florida.

Florida Panthers, proud symbol of Florida, are endangered and seriously inbred. Panthers from Texas were brought in a few years ago to refresh the gene pool. Along Route 75, “Alligator Alley,” that runs from east to west through the Florida Everglades, high fences have recently been erected to protect panthers from traffic.

The aging dike at Lake Okeechobe has undergone extensive renovations this year. Nutrient-rich water released from the lake has caused red tides in the Gulf of Mexico and blue-green algae overgrowth in our rivers, sickening people, killing fish, dolphins, endangered manatees and endangered sea turtles. From now on, water will be released from the lake into bodies of water in much smaller amounts. The water from Lake Okeechobe will once again flow into the Florida Everglades as it was intended to do. I think Wildlife numbers will increase there due to this restoration.

I hesitated to provide detailed background information in this post. After all, I only spent half a day walking around the park and reading signs. That is the source of most of the information given about the park. I am not a biologist or expert on the environment, just a retired elementary school teacher and amateur poet who loves animals and cares about wildlife and the environment. I have done some research on wildlife to write my enviromnent-themed book series about Florida animals, Hanging Out with Wild Animals. You can read more about the books on my website.

It is tragic that so many animals have been injured and driven to extinction by human settlement and human activities, but the animals who live at Homosassa Wildlife State Park, though disabled, help to raise public awareness of wildlife and environmental issues. As the sign says, they are “ambassadors of wildlife.”


Animals at Homosassa Springs

Wildlife State Park

Endangered whooping crane. Photo by Amber Langeloni from Pixabay.

Love Birds

Male whooping crane joined

flightless female whooping crane

in her enclosure.

He could choose to fly away,

but he loves her, so he stays.

River otter. Photo by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay.

River Otters

You’ve got to be quick

to capture river otters

with your camera.

Appearing, disappearing

through plants on water’s surface.

Bald eagles. Photo by Jonathan Cooper from Unsplash.

Bald Eagle, National Bird

It’s been a long time

since these two injured eagles

soared Florida’s skies

American flag above ,

they watch as life passes by.

A school of snook viewed from the underwater observatory at the main spring of Homosassa State Wildlife Park. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Migrating Marine Fish

In the wintertime,

marine fish, like manatees,

migrate to hot springs.

Manatees and marine fish

thrive in seas and fresh water.

Florida bobcat. Photo by Meg Jerrard from Unsplash.

Bobcats & Florida Panthers

Florida bobcats

now coexist with humans

in suburbia.

Florida panthers, pride of

Florida, are endangered.

Flamingos in the tropical bird area. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Egret and roseate spoonbills. Photo by Kurt Anderson from Pexels.

Tropical Birds

Sparkling waters flow

through green paradise,

home of tropical birds.

Pink flamingos and spoonbills,

night herons, and sleeping swans.

Red wolf. Photo by Lucie Sa Vi from Unsplash.

Red Wolves

Endangered red wolves

roam a spacious enclosure,

delighting humans.

Procreation their purpose…

red wolf repopulation.

American alligator. Photo by Katey Batavia.

Alligators

Alligators live

in a pond that’s metal fenced…

Visitors are safe.

Prehistoric predators…

fearsome reptiles captivate.

Black vultures. Photo by Ellen Maher.

Black Vulture Family

Handsome black vultures

choose to live at the preserve…

welcome scavengers!

Perching on the hippo’s back,

they eat insects, then share his food.

Pippa, the hippo at Homosassa State Wildlife Park. Photo by Katey Batavia.

Pippa, the Hippopotamus,

Age Sixty-One

Grandfathered from days

when exotic animals

were in residence.

Citizen of Florida,

world’s oldest captive hippo.

American black bear. Photo by Katey Batavia.

Ambassadors

of Florida Wildlife

Most animals here

are unable to survive

living on their own.

Protected, they now serve

as ambassadors of wildlife.

Rare, endangered squirrel now unable to live in the wild because it was illegally raised in captivity. Photo by Ellen Maher.


Copyright© 2021 by Cheryl Batavia


For more information:

floridastateparks.org

Find a Park:

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

58 Comments

    1. Thank you, Joanna, for your kind and thoughtful response to this post. I agree that it is sad that animals are endangered by human settlement and activities.

      I had hesitated to provide much background information because we spent only half a day at the wildlife park reading signs. I am no wildlife expert, but your remarks and David’s question encouraged me to write a more detailed introduction. I have done that to the best of my ability. I hope you will read it and give me some feedback, as I value your opinion on environmental issues.

      Have a great week! ❤

      Like

      Reply

    1. Thank you so much, Ingrid, for your lovely response. Due to remarks by Joanna and a question from David, I have posted an expanded introduction with some background information about the ecology and wildlife of Florida that I think would be of interest to you.

      I ordered a copy of the Anthropocene Hymnal and received it yesterday. I am eagerly looking forward to reading it! Though it is a Christmas gift for my daughter, Ellen, rest assured that I will read it before I send it to her! 🙂

      Have a great week. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. really appreciate the extra info, we don’t have to be experts to share good news 🙂

        I visited Gerald Durrell’s zoo on Jersey Island, now known as Jersey Zoo, where they successfully specialise in breeding endangered species from around the world. Fab environmental enclosures and program 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Thanks for a wonderful visit to the Wild Life State Park and your amazing pictures, rich history and poetry!!! So sweet that the crane stays with his partner who is blind. 3 of 65 couples at Thanksgiving were divorced. We could learn from them alright. I love the flamingos flat beak. I’ve never seen that before.. good shot.!!! 💖🙏👏 Thanks for sharing my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

  2. Oh, Cindy, your lovely comment made my day! My pleasure to share such happy experiences . I have one more post about my visit with my daughters yet to write. I think the photo you saw may have been the roseate spoonbill. They are bald and use that funny-looking beak to scoop up and strain water from their food.

    All the best, Cindy! ❤

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    Reply

  3. An awesome share, Cheryl. Educational information, wildlife, and poetry. Wonderful! I agree with Gaby that it is sad to see animals in captivity, however, I know without protection and the amazing dedication of many individuals, many animals would not be.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

    1. Thank you, Brian, for your kind comment. ❤ So glad you enjoyed the post. I have watched many documentaries about whooping cranes, but this was my first opportunity to see them in person. I have always enjoyed watching the sandhill cranes we have here in Florida.

      Wishing you a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

      1. We have been following Whooping Cranes since I got back into birding many years ago. One of the main reasons we head down to Texas every January is to photograph the wild Whoopers that migrate down there from Wood Buffalo, Canada. A ways from you, but if you are every near Baraboo, Wisconsin, be sure and check out the International Crane Foundation that is based there. They are responsible for a majority of the US based Whooper conservation efforts and have a very nice center there where you can see the various cranes (live) from around the world. As members of that organization we try to get there at least once a year (only 4 hours away from us). Have a fabulous week as well..

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Punam, for your kind response. I don’t usually write so much prose, but it was good to be able share some good news about what Florida is doing to help the environment and wildlife. Like you, I found the story about the whooping cranes heartwarming. All the best! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

    1. Your kind comment means a lot to me, Michel! Although Florida is often viewed as a not very progressive state, it is heartening to see the progress we are making on environmental issues! Hope you and Janine are doing well!
      Love ❤
      Cheryl

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      Reply

    1. Thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts, Olivia. Homosassa Wildlife State Park is a beautiful, relaxing place to visit if you are ever in that area again. How interesting that you studied in Lakeland! Another place in that area that you might like is Bok Tower in Lake Wales, if you’ve never been. It has lovely gardens and a carrillon.

      My late husband and I adopted our son and daughter from Yekaterinberg, Russia in 1995.

      Wishing you a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

  4. Thank you for the suggestions, Cheryl. I loved Florida when I was there, which was a long time ago. Now I live in the South of France and in Moscow, Russia.I alternate between both countries. How interesting that you adopted two children from Yekaterinburg. How do they feel in the USA? Do they get along well? All the best to you, and wishing you a Happy New Year too.

    Liked by 2 people

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