As with most RV parks in locations popular with the Snow Bird crowd, outings are always on the calendar.
This week Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary was on the schedule. A private tour just for the Seminole campers. Those of us that opted to go met at the campground office to board the owners motorhome, then we were off.
Octagon Wildlife Sanctuary is a nonprofit sanctuary run completely by volunteers. Only the lady in charge draws a salary and only because it’s mandated by the state of Florida. Her yearly gross? $1.00. You see, 100% of the donations goes directly to the care of the animals entrusted to them.
Previously the land was owned by the television studio that filmed the old television show “Gentle Ben”. When Gentle Ben was canceled the property was put on the market. However, the studio abandoned two black bears on the premises, caged and left to die. The property was promptly purchased. The new owners originally planned to build a facility for unwed mothers on the site. There was just one little hitch in the plan, or more precisely, two little hitches…the bears. Still alive, but just barely. The new owners felt the need to care for them so within a matter of a few days a pen was erected with spaces for play, sleep and feedings. The bears thrived and well, as they say, the rest is history. Nowadays the facility houses over 200 of God’s creatures.
Once an animal is placed at the sanctuary, it’s welcome to live out the remainder of it’s days in comfort. The majority of the animals have been rescued from abusive environments. Their case histories will make you sick at heart. The cruelty that man can inflict knows no bounds. A few of the animals were brought to the refuge because of their afflictions. A tiger whose skull was crushed during birth, resulting in epilepsy. An old circus bear with the onset of dementia. A bobcat that’s blind in one eye. And the list goes on. There are a couple of coyotes, injured by motorists, who are rehabbing and even a pair of colorful parrots that once called a dental office home but were surrendered to the sanctuary on account of their swearing, which by the way was taught them by the patients. If it wasn’t for Octagon, many of these animals would have been euthanized.
The volunteers are very passionate about what they do and it is obvious the animals are being well tended. Providing for the sanctuary’s animals requires a tremendous amount of time and money. If after reading this post you feel inclined to contribute to the sanctuary in some way, please check out
on how you can get involved. The refuge is always looking for volunteers, tools of any kind, wheelbarrows, water hoses, PVC piping, rakes, shovels, building materials such as wood, nails and fencing and gift certificates from area stores. Donations are constantly needed and appreciated.
Here’s lookin’ at you kid……