A visit to the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park

A visit to Homosassa would be incomplete without a visit to the wonderful Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park! With over 210 acres and a 45 foot deep natural spring which forms the headwaters of the beautiful Homosassa River you will have a full afternoon experiencing all that is wonderful about Florida Wildlife.

Manatee

Manatee

Started as a petting zoo in 1924. The property changed hands and direction many times but in 1984 was purchased by Citrus County and in now owned by the state of Florida.  All exotic animals and non-native plants have been removed to restore the park to the Real Florida. Only 1 exotic animal remains, Lucifer the 46 year old hippo that was granted honorary citizenship after hundreds of school children protested his removal from the park.

Lucifer

Lucifer

There is a 180 ton floating underwater observatory, also known as the “Fish Bowl” and the story of its installation I will leave for you to discover when you are visiting! This is a wonderful place to view manatees and a number of salt and freshwater fish that call the spring home.

The Fish Bowl at Homosassa Springs

The Fish Bowl at Homosassa Springs

The main attraction is the animals. This is one of the few places in the world where you can see Red Wolves as wild populations were eliminated in the 1960’s and are now only being sustained by captive populations.

Red Wolf

Red Wolf

You will also find Whooping Cranes, Panther, Burrowing Owls, Key Deer, alligators, crocodiles, snakes  and so many more. All the animals here have all been relocated and unable to be released in the wild for any number of reasons. Some have been injured, others displaced and have lost their fear of humans. Do not mistake the park for a zoo, it is the only place these animals can call home as they would have to of been put down if there was not a facility like this for them to be rehabilitated and cared for. The park also serves as a rehabilitation and refuge center for injured West Indian manatees. Many other manateesprefer to spend the winter months around these constant temperature springs of the Homosassa River. In the cold winter months you will find hundreds of them here in the spring.

Fox

Fox

Birds are also a big attraction here! Bald Eagles, Caracara, hawks, owls, aquatic birds, shorebirds and yes the Endangered  Whooping Cranes! The photo opportunities are just incredible and your junior photographer will come away with amazing photos! Many professionals come here to get wonderful close up shots of these magnificent creatures.

Whooping Crane

Whooping Crane

The park is open to visitors every day of the year 9am-5:30 pm. There are interpretive programs offered throughout the day. Admission rates are more than fair at $13 for adults and $5 for kids 6-12 (kids under 5 years old are free). You can also purchase your State Park Passport here or get the one you have stamped! From Hwy 19 you can pass through the visitors center and take the free 20 min boat ride to the park entrance. This is a great way to see many native plants and birds before you even get to the park! Please do not forget to visit the gift shop or get an ice cream in the concession area before you leave!

Click here for directions: Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Click here for the official:Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park Brochure

Florida State Park Website: http://www.floridastateparks.org/homosassasprings/aboutthepark.cfm

For more photos of our trip please visit: http://notaclueadventuresphotos.shutterfly.com/pictures/654

In closing this is a wonderful place for you and your children to learn more about Florida wildlife! Take an afternoon and visit – you will not be disappointed!

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About notacluegal

Jeanene was born in Pittsburgh, PA. As a young child her family was very active in the outdoors. Things changed when her parents decided to travel down different paths in life and with that decision so went many of the opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. Being lucky to live in the suburbs Jeanene always had a backyard to play in and loved being outdoors. As the years passed she took every opportunity to be outdoors. She bought land in Tennessee and as a single mom moved her young daughter to the mountains. The were many life lessons learned on that mountain. There was no plumbing on the property – or even a house, but that did not stop her. She learned to live off of what was available and built her own cabin from the trees on her property. Those were rough years but the most rewarding. Now Jeanene resides in Tampa, Fl. and works as an office manager full time….but still yeans to be outdoors. Jeanene started “Not a Clue Adventures” to teach everyone she could how wonderful the outdoors are! That camping and fishing and hiking can be done by everyone and at many different levels. Single mom’s no longer have to be afraid to take their sons and daughters outdoors. By working with young couples, single parents and even seniors, she gets to teach others about her love for the outdoors and hopes to open their eyes to new adventures. In 2009, Jeanene completed certification as a Leave No Trace Instructor. She also works closely with the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF), Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) and the Florida State Parks. Jeanene is also certified in First Aid/Adult CPR.
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