Winter 2017 Manager's Message

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Park Manager Kim Tennille with volunteer

Winter in Florida with its cooler days offers many reasons to visit Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. There are lots of new things to see. Homosassa Springs is one of a very few places where you can see endangered West Indian manatees, Whooping cranes, Florida Key Deer, and Red wolves. It may be winter by the calendar but Spring has already arrived at Homosassa Springs. Should look up in the tree tops around the alligator lagoon you will see nesting Great blue herons. Further along the Wildlife Walk you will see Brown pelicans hatching chicks on Pelican Island.

During the winter months, the gate has been opened at the Long River Bridge, allowing the wild manatees to have access to the warmer waters of the spring. On colder days, you may see dozens of wild manatees in the spring and spring run. The Fish Bowl floating underwater observatory offers an unequalled, below- surface view of manatees and fish in the clear spring environment. The park's four resident manatees are enjoying a large section of the spring run, including the in-ground rehabilitation pool.

Three Manatee Programs, two Wildlife Encounters, and an Alligator Program are presented daily giving visitors an opportunity to learn more about Florida's wildlife. A Reptile House provides close-up viewing of native snakes and other reptiles.

The park participates in the Red Wolf Species Survival project. The park now has a pair of Red wolves, Jester and Rose. The wildlife care staff at the park works with Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission in raising orphaned bear cubs at the Felburn Wildlife Care Center to be released back to the wild.

Start your visit with a leisurely pontoon boat ride down Pepper Creek to the Wildlife Park. Along the way you may see ospreys nesting, limpkins, herons or egrets wading in the creek, wood ducks swimming along; not to mention turtles sunning on logs, fish and, maybe even an otter. Every day a different experience waits.

And that’s just the beginning. Our elevated boardwalk system provides a great view of the wildlife, including two Florida panthers, bears, bobcats, deer, alligators, and a wide variety of wading birds, birds of prey, and songbirds.

The Wildside Café, the park’s snack bar, offers inside and outdoor dining and locations throughout the park for snacks and refreshments. The State of Elegance and Nest of Treasures gift shops are located at the Visitor Center and West entrances respectively.

January starts out with a First Day Hike and ranger guided tour of the Wildlife Walk. On January 26, 2018, we will be celebrating Lu, the hippo’s 58th birthday with a big party. A guided Bird walk on Pepper Creek Trail will be held on Saturday, January 27. Also on January 27, the Wildlife Puppeteers will be presenting a puppet play in the Florida Room at 2:00 pm. Be sure to look at the complete listing of our Park Events for more information on this and other upcoming events.

A visit to the park is a day you'll long remember, the ideal family outing. Leave your everyday worries behind you as you set out to explore the Real Florida at Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park and all of our 174 Florida State Parks.

Our dedicated employees and friendly volunteers are waiting to welcome you!

- Kimberlee Tennille, Park Manager