The Best Animal Sanctuaries in FloridaSeptember 08, 2022 - Updated May 18, 2023
Florida wetlands teem with native flora and fauna, some of which are regular sights at Lakeshore. But even though our Florida community is a thriving hub for wildlife, there are other exhilarating reserves and natural forests to explore. Here are some of the best animal sanctuaries and parks to explore and watch central Florida wildlife.
Withlacoochee State Forest
Distinguished by 13 miles of the meandering Withlacoochee River, this state forest is the perfect place to venture outdoors and feast upon some spectacular views. The lush foliage is comprised of seven tracts, featuring tree species like the southern magnolia, oak, gum, maple, bald cypress, and even more. It’s no wonder Withlacoochee State Forest is considered the third largest state forest within Florida!
Some of the wildlife you’ll spot along the trails include bald eagles, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, gopher tortoises, and various species of the squirrel. Some notable spots include the Citrus Wildlife Management Area, Vandal Cave and Peace Cave along Trail 22, and the Cypress Lake Preserve, among others.
Chase Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservancy
The primate pet and breeding trade is exploitative and does not hold the animals’ best interests at heart. Chase Sanctuary and Wildlife Conservancy earnestly hopes to educate visitors about this ugly reality, in addition to raising public awareness of the rapidly accelerating number of endangered primates.
On a lighter note, some of the amazing animals you will find here include lemurs, parrots, sloths, deer, and more. If you’re looking for a truly unique wildlife experience, you’ll certainly enjoy yoga with the lemurs and painting beside the primates.
Ocala National Forest
In the Ocala National Forest, you’ll be swimming beside the fishes – literally! The springs located within the forest stay at an inviting 72 – 74 degrees year-round, and you’ll be able to enjoy swimming beside native fish species that find their natural abode in the springs. We highly recommend taking a day trip out to Salt Springs for a refreshing dip under the crystal-clear waters and a having a light picnic at the recreation section.
Take heed to follow all the designated visitor rules and guidelines at every distinct park. If you’re looking forward to hiking on trails or indulging the great outdoors, bring water to keep well-hydrated, wear proper hiking shoes, and protect yourself with repellants to ward off mosquitoes and ticks.
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