Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Visiting a wildlife sanctuary in West Palm Beach, Florida

Last week in my post about West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Island in Florida I mentioned why we had flown to Florida (see post 18th February.) We stayed four days and enjoyed varied scenery and attractions. I had heard about the McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary and since my husband had spent a career in wildlife and environmental management I thought that this would be something he might like to see. The sanctuary is located on a quiet road in West Palm Beach.

We ran the doorbell

and a young lady came to greet us. She told us her name was Aneth.

She escorted us into the sanctuary.

Click on pictures to enlarge them

She gave us a quick background on the sanctuary. Mark McCarthy has worked with animals since 1972 – with a venom research lab and later with exotic cats. He purchased five acres in 1990 in West Palm Beach and built the McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary. There he receives animals from wildlife officers, animals that were sick, injured or orphans. He has also adopted hundreds of exotic animals which were unwanted, abandoned or illegally possessed. Some have become permanent residents. Some have been returned to the wild. The sanctuary is a nonprofit wildlife rehabilitation facility licensed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the US Dept of Agriculture.

Below is a postcard showing the longest living resident at the sanctuary – a White-tailed Hawk named Vader. He came to the sanctuary as an adult in 1980. (I took his picture but it was blurred so I bought this postcard.)

Postcard photo by Karen Lindquist

We walked by the Scarlet Macaw named Norma Jean

then by the Ringed Tail Lemur . The species originated from Madagascar and is very vocal.

Aneth told us that she came from Tanzania 5 years ago at the same time as a baby Siberian tiger, named Sabi. She said she hand fed her until Sabi became too big and started to play rough. Siberian tigers can weigh from 350 to 600 pounds or more and eat 10 to 15 pounds of food a day - a combination of meat and other special food.

I found a picture on the net showing how big a Siberian tiger is. (Photographed by Wesley.)

We saw a smaller and then a larger turtle quite close

Click on photographs to enlarge them

Aneth took Louie, the Kinkajou, on her shoulder so we could touch its soft fur. It really was soft.

The Bengal Tiger can live up to 10 years in the wild, but 20 years in captivity. Here is one –

Aneth explained that many of the animals had been unwanted pets. For example some large cats, I believe it was the panther and the lion, were abandoned at a Motel Six in Orlando, Florida. Another cat, a Siberian tiger, was kept as a pet in Minnesota and was lead on a leash as a cub, but abandoned when it became too large and ate too much.

Here is Aslan the lion. He is 5 years old and weighs 450 pounds. Aneth says he is a big baby – I’ll take her word for it.

His roar was magnificent; the roar of a lion can be heard to a distance of 5 miles.

Aslan’s usual playmate is Lola the other Siberian Tiger –

We continued walking along the animal pens and saw more big cats including a leopard, another tiger and Sandy and George, the Florida panthers (also called Mountain Lions or Pumas or Cougars.)

Postcard purchased at the sanctuary (Photo by Karen Lindquist.)

These are my photos -

They were left homeless after a hurricane in Panama City.

The reptile room had quite a few interesting animals.

There were some cute baby alligators. Aneth held them so we could pet them, and I did.

Aneth took Snowball, the 12 years old 40 pounds Albino Burmese python, and placed it around my neck (it felt heavy and cold.) But I did not care to hold the tarantula – I preferred to have Aneth hold it while I took its picture.

So it was time to leave the reptile area and the main sanctuary too.

There are over ninety permanent resident animals at the sanctuary. Here are just a few others.

It is quite an expense to house these lovely creatures. The large cats, twenty-two of them, are carnivores and consume one thousand pounds of meat each week. The compound is very clean and well taken care of, no odors. Many of these animals would not have survived if it had not been for this sanctuary and many others across the country. A mixed Australian dingo and chow dog looks like he can keep the area secure.

We really enjoyed our visit and felt that we had been able to come quite close to the animals. Another couple had joined us after a while and the four of us were the only visitors. It certainly was a great relaxing experience. Later on we went to eat in a small Cuban restaurant and I finished the evening reading about what we would do next.

Italian painting (no more information)

Additional Note: For a long time there has been a growing trade in captive wild animals for pets. The sale of wild and exotic animals is thriving in the illegal world market and this needs to be stopped. More monitoring of traders should be done and smuggling wild animals needs to be severely dealt with. I read that the Captive Wildlife Safety Act bans interstate commerce of big cat but it does not restrict ownership of these animals. It does not cover other wild animals though. Georgia and several other states, 29 so far, prohibit keeping dangerous wildlife as pets. Every state should prohibit residents from possessing wild animals as pets. The Big Cat Rescue site lists the laws in each state regarding the keeping of exotic cats, click here to see what your state is doing to protect these animals. There are several organization protecting animals, one of them is Born Free, USA. You can check their site here for details. Additional information can be found at the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries: click here.


Vicki Lane said...

Such beautiful creatures and how nice to see that they seem to be well cared for!

Pondside said...

I wouldn't have handled the tarantula either - and I think you were very brave to have that snake around your neck. I'm not a fan of zoos, but a wildlife refuge is something altogether different isn't it? There was a man in our community who last year rescued an enormous tiger and built a cage for it on his property. The tiger finally ended up going to a proper refuge, probably like the one you showed us. Very interesting post.

claude said...

Cette réserve est certainement un paradis pour tous ces animaux.
Au Zoo de la Flèche j'ai vu un tigre blanc aussi.
Tu connais la différence qu'il y a entre un crocodile et un aligator ???
La tortue me rapelle Rosalie, celle que nous avions dans notre jardin près de Paris et qui est morte empoisonnée par l'anti limaces que mon papa mettait pour préserver ses salades.
J'ai photographie un lion aussi au zoo de la Flèche. Il dormait sur le dos, les quatre pattes écartées et le service 3 pièces bien à l'air. Tout le monde se marrait de cette posture.
Merci pour la visite, Vagabonde !

Ginnie said...

There are people who are vehemently vocal about zoos and any captivity of wild animals, Vagabonde, but my feeling is that for most of these creatures, their lives have been saved. We have much to learn from Mother Nature, even in captivity. Isn't there a sense in which we all have had to be "tamed"...and still be free to be who we are?

Deborah said...

Another interesting outing with you! I would love to go to a place like that, and I disagree with anti-zoo (and presumably anti-refuge) people who think that animals should only live in their natural habitat. Obviously a lot of these lovely beasts would not be alive were it not for the sanctuary they are offered. They're all gorgeous but I like the pumas particularly.

The whimsical touch at the very end made me smile!

Thank you, Vagabonde!

Louis la Vache said...

Norma Jean is quite the colorful bird!

«Louis» will pass on the reptiles, however....we have a more than ample supply of them in the current Congress...


Jinksy said...

It's sad they all lost teir freedom originally, though. No kindness can make up for that...

wenn said...

such interesting visit!

DJan said...

"How doth the little crocodile" popped into my head at the first picture. I had no idea that hawks could live for so long (probably not in the wild, though). I am so glad there are people who do this, and that there is a place for those who are orphans through no fault of their own, but of some misguided human! Thanks for the visit, I enjoyed it very much.

DJan said...

I left a comment but I'm not sure it went through. If it didn't, let me know and I'll rewrite it!

Scotti Cohn said...

What a lovely presentation of your visit to a fascinating place! I am very interested in big cats, in particular. I will put McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary on my list of places I would like to visit. Thanks for writing such an engaging blog!

Scotti Cohn

Darlene said...

Although I hate to see critters in cages, in the case of a refuge it is a kindness to the animal.

All of the animals look well fed and cared for.

Thanks for another interesting tour.

Ratty said...

Wow! So many great animals. This obviously must have been an exciting adventure. I'm glad there is a place like this that rescues these creatures.

Pame Recetas said...

I just loved your blog. My congratulations for a great job, you really take your time, and that turns out on great results, I enjoyed the visit, learned a great deal and sure will come back.

Elaine said...

What a very interesting place to visit. It looks like it was the high point of your trip.

claude said...

J'ai lu ton com sur mon blog et t'en remercie.
Je t'envoie par mail quelques photos de famille dont la pghoto de mariage de mes parents. Tu pourras faire un post avec si tu veux. Je t'envoie cela demain.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the better posts I have read in a long time. Your photos are excellent and the words with them are encouraging. So much so that West Palm Beach (where my son lives or did) will see us visit this place the nest time we go south.

DianeCA said...

I agree, this is an excellent post. What a special place. I love big cats, so I would really enjoy seeing those. I think the alligator is really cool though, and snakes are beautiful but in this place I would keep my distance. Excellent pictures, makes me want to visit these amazing people some day.

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Oh my goodness, what a stunning post! The photos really become a narrative in themselves, and I must admit I was amazed by the size of that tiger. Gorgeous animal. I'm so glad I found this blog, Vagabonde. I wonder where in Georgia you live. I'm a native of the SW portion. I am glad to know that Ga. prohibits owning wild animals.
Moving story a friend told me about an elephant sanctuary. I will try to find it and post it. I believe it's in TN.

Baino said...

Looks like a lovely zoo.Of course the dingo cross took my eye! We have plenty here but the only 'pure' bred dingos live on Fraser Island off the coast of Queensland where they haven't had their gene pool diluted by domestic dogs although you'd never tell that the mainland dingos weren't pure bred. You have to have a special license to keep them as pets because the 'wildness' in them is still very strong and their behaviour is different to domestic dogs. You can keep the spider!

RennyBA's Terella said...

What a unique wild life report! All this is soooooooooooooo exotic to a Norwegian you know. You take such great photos - it's like being there.
Thanks for taking us with!

Vagabonde said...

Vicki Lane, Pondside, Ginnie, Deborah, Louis, Jinsky, Wenn, DJan, Darlene, Ratty, Elaine, Abe Lincoln, DianeCA, Baino and RennyBa – Thank you for stopping and writing a comment. I always look forward to your comments and it makes me happy when I can show you pictures of a place that you would not have seen otherwise. I appreciate your visits.

Vagabonde said...

Claude – Merci beaucoup pour ta visite. Mon mari vient de retrouver il y a une heure mes 3 albums de famille que j’avais ramenés de France et avais perdus il y a beaucoup d’années. Ils étaient dans le fond d’une boîte dans le garage avec des vieilles couvertures dessus et je n’avais jamais pensé de regarder là. Maintenant je vais avoir des photos de mon enfance pour mes posts de souvenirs. Merci pour le com.

Vagabonde said...

Scotti and Pamela – welcome to my blog. I appreciate your stopping by and hope you will stop again.

Vagabonde said...

Kathryn – welcome to my blog. I have the site of the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee. It is a large place but the public is not invited as I recall. I’ll go to your blog and give you the web address. I appreciate your stopping by.

Anonymous said...

Hello, it was a pleasure to navigate on your blog, there are here some great photos, i hope to see in the future more of your photo work, thank´s for sharing this amazing moments.
All the best, have a nice day, see you soon.

José Filipe

penny said...

I am glad to here you and your husband had such a nice time when you visited Florina.
Thank you for stopping by.

Zuzana said...

Beautiful narrative and lovely pictures. This must have one of a kind visit.;)

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