Today we decided to take a day trip to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. It is not typical of most state parks but has a theme of being a wildlife refuge or animal assisted living. This is not a zoo. After crossing the visitor center we boarded a pontoon boat for a one mile ride to the refuge park and purchased tickets to enter.
All but one of the animals in the park are native to Florida. That one happens to be named Lu and he is a 3500 lb hippo rescued from TV land. He got too big and the shows went off the air. He was taken to the Homosassa Springs Park which at the time was private. When the state bought the park they only wanted animals native to Florida and said Lu couldn't stay. The people of Homosassa protested loudly and the state made Lu an honorary resident of Florida so he could stay. He celebrates his 55th birthday on Monday. The oldest hippo in captivity lived 61 years but in the wild they only live about 35 years. This hippo knows only the human imprint and could never be released.
The exhibits are very informative and presented by volunteers of the park. The bird exhibit was the most interesting. Some birds are injured residents and can't fly away but many come and go freely just for the free food. The park also contains an underwater observatory where we could view many fish species and sometimes the four resident manatees. The springs stay a constant 72 degrees and in the winter months the park opens the gates to allow the wild manatees to come in for warmth.
We spent about three hours observing the animals, stopping for an ice cream cone and listening to the educational programs. It was a great way to spend an afternoon.
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We love to travel in our 2021 Coachmen Beyond van about half of the year. Join us, if you will, to see where our adventures take us.