“ 9225 W. Fishbowl Drive / Homossassa Springs. „
I highly recommend a visit to the Homosassa Springs Wildlife park to anyone going to Florida. Ever since a visit to Seaworld as a 5 year old, I've always loved Manatee. So after some reseraching for a trip to Florida last September I came across someone recommending Homosassa Springs on another website. I loved the sound of seeing Manatee in their natural environmnt and seeing injured/orphaned manatee being rehabilitated. So I decided it would definately be worth a visit. And it was.
It takes about an hour and a half to drive there from Orlando but its nice to get away from I-drive for a bit and see a bit more of Florida. We found it very easily just using a map as we didnt have sat nav. When we arrived we parked in the car park (lots of space) and went in. The first bit is a large, nicely air conditioned indoor area with some info on the park, a couple of shops, some toilets and the paying area. When we cam to pay the lady was very friendly and gave us a map of the park. The price was VERY good, it cost $9 each. It was just me and my boyfriend but I remember seeing for children it was about $5 so its a cheap family day out. This is a welcome break from the prices of Orlando!
There are 2 ways to get into the main bit of the park - either by truck or a boat ride along the river. We went for the boat ride which was fun. We had a guide driving the boat who told us a bit about the history of the park and pointed out some of the Florida wildlife in and around the river. When we got into the park itself we followed the recommended route and went first into the underwater viewing station. This was fab as you can see the Manatee swimming past as well as other tropical fish. Shortly after there was a manatee education talk starting so we thought we'd get good seats and sat down about 20 minutes before it started. There was plenty of shade over the seats which kept us cool. The education talk was really intersting, the guy that did it got in the water with the manatee and it came up to him and he was hand feeding it =). He had loads of interesting info about manatee and told us what the park did for the manatee then gave people a chance to ask questions. The talk lasted about 20 mins.
After the talk we walked around the park to look at the other animals. The park was a bit smaller than I thought and was a litte bit run down in some areas but they dont seem to have a lot of money to spare which is a shame. There was a lot of fabulous animals to look at though including crocodiles, American Bald Eagles, cougars, bobcats, snakes and otters.
Theres a small cafe in the park which serves drinks, hotdogs, crisps and ice creams and again is very reasonably priced - I think it was $2 for a hotdog! The people that work there are very friendly, in fact all the people at the park were very friendly and welcoming and always around for you to ask questions.
After we'd finished in the park we took the truck back to the first bit of the park and had a look in the shops. They sold the typical sort of souvenirs you see in most gift shops around Florida as well as lots of Manatee themed stuff!
All in all a brilliant day out. Its great to see somewhere thats rehabilitating injured and orphaned manatee and not see them breeding these wonderful creatures in captivity. Its also a top class place to see other animals native to Florida and learn a bit more about them.