Education, relocation, rescue top the agenda
Animal rescue is a labor of love, but, for at least one involved wildlife group, it’s also a financial challenge.
The Everglades Outpost Wildlife Refuge and Rescue in Homestead, south of Miami, had arranged educational opportunities for schools and local civic organizations, but it is now closed to large events, and its leaders say that funding for its rescue mission is a struggle.
It still offers scheduled private tours and what it calls an adoption program, in which people can sponsor an animal for a year, providing support and care. Adoption is available for native and invasive wildlife.
Jonny Cobbler, the manager, said his plan is to create an educational facility that would allow guests to be interactive with specific animals. He wants activity that could enable the outpost to earn enough money to reopen for large events and learning programs.
Since 1994, the outpost has been dedicated to safeguarding the health of native and exotic wildlife.
The five-acre, not-for-profit site shelters, feeds and nurtures its animals from the residential development that has all-but-consumed the surrounding South Florida area. The outpost cares for a variety of exotic species, including tigers, camels, black bears, donkeys, boars, mountain lions, wild dogs, tortoises and various exotic birds.
Animals are rescued every day, and they get relocated to new homes frequently. But there are also animals like Buck the bear and Willow the Florida panther, who have been there for more than 15 years.
The mission is to rescue hurt and neglected wildlife. The outpost’s services include providing medical treatment for sick and injured exotic species; rehabilitation and relocation of wildlife back to its natural environment, and relocation of exotic species to suitable sites.
The outpost has also taken on responsibilities to educate the public about conserving wildlife and to increase knowledge of endangered and threatened animals.
“One thing I would say is to educate yourselves about the wildlife in your area,” Cobbler said. “Most people fear animals because of a lack of knowledge about the animal they fear.”
Other problems include distractions while driving through sensitive areas. “The biggest threat to the Everglades,” he said, “is — and will always be — people.”
Cobbler’s plan is to create an educational facility that will allow guests to be interactive with specific animals. With a program like that, the outpost might earn enough funding to keep operating.
Cobbler said the community can help by donating items such as food, kennels, hay, old cages and money. He also urged taking care of the environment, and he advised volunteering time to help at the site.
The Everglades Outpost Wildlife Refuge is at 35601 SW 192 Ave. in Homestead (telephone 305-247-8000