Hardee County Wildlife Refuge

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It's Thursday, which means they're open, so I paid my $4.28 (literally – there's no tax, it's $4.28 on the nose. I paid $5 and called it good 😆) and went for a boardwalk stroll. No pets, which makes complete sense. • • There are quite a few animals – emus, black bear, bobcats, raccoons, coyotes, deer, gators, tortoises, birds, river otters, to name a few (most, actually). It's not a zoo – I believe they are all here because they need a home and cannot be released back into the wild. Or, in the case of the many, many vultures, because they can, so why not. Their beloved Florida panther recently passed away, but they're maintaining the space for the next one that needs a home (we don't have many left, and they sometimes have set-tos with cars, leaving them injured and in need of care). • • I didn't know what to expect from my visit, and I came away pleasantly surprised. Everything looked well maintained, and the animals seemed to be well cared for. Sure, they'd probably prefer to be running free, but circumstances mean they wouldn't be doing much running, and they wouldn't be doing it for long. It isn't a big place, but the boardwalk makes for an interesting way of viewing the animals. I'd have more pictures of them, but it was (wait for it…🤣) pretty darn hot, and most were doing what smart animals do in the heat – not much. All told, $5 well spent. If you're local, they have annual passes ($15/individual, $30/family) so you can make frequent visits to see your favourites. And maybe there will be a panther joining the gang before long (although it's better to hope there *won't* be, odds are there will). • • @hardee_wildlife_refuge @visithardee @visitflorida #wildlife #notazoo #rehab #rescue #getoutside #seenature #boardwalk #pioneerpark #zolfosprings #LoveFL #floridacrackertrail

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