By Marissa Potts
A sunny Wildlife Walk paves the way for Central Florida residents and tourists at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge. This sanctuary in Orlando helps rescue, raise, rehabilitate, and release approximately 2,500-3,000 animals per year. They are also the largest non-profit public wildlife rehabilitation facility in the Central Florida region. You can visit them yourself and meet some truly beautiful and unique animals at their sanctuary!
Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge is a hidden gem in Central Florida. You will travel about 2 miles off of the main road to reach this wildlife paradise, and when you get there you will see how massive the property is! There is quite a large parking lot, I believe to accommodate schools and scout troops who visit as well as crowds on the weekends. Once you park, a short path will lead you to the main building to start your wildlife walk. This costs $5 per person, and leads you to a path with animals on both sides of you as you travel through. I was really only expecting to see native Florida wildlife here. However, I was surprised to see some very exotic animals like ring tailed lemurs and prairie dogs!
Since Back to Nature is a rescue center, it is pretty astonishing to read how some of these animals came into their care. According to their website, the ring tailed lemurs were adopted from Second Chance Wildlife and were rescued from captive breeding. A truly crazy story is how they received Koko, the emu, which you can read more about below.
The wildlife walk was so fun! The staff was very friendly and knowledgeable, and ready to chat or answer any questions I had. At the end of the wildlife walk, a gate leads out to a large field where you can catch a sneak peek of beehives that are filled with rescued bees!
Koko the Emu
Emus are native to Australia but one day, out of the blue in 1997, Koko was found running down John Young Parkway! Unfortunately, she was hit by a car on her journey. However, that did not slow her down as it took the help of Orange County Animal Services, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, and the Orlando Police Department to catch her! Koko was sent to Back to Nature to rehabilitate, but no owners ever came forward to get her back.
At the start and end of your walk, you’ll pass through the gift shop. Here, you’ll find gifts for every animal lover in your life. An item that really stood out to me was the honey that they sell from their rescued bees! This is such a great way to enjoy some local honey while also supporting a great cause. They also had stuffed animals, animals carved out of stone, t-shirts, and books to take home with you.
Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge is a great place to visit for a low-cost day of fun, with family or friends. There are stunning and unique animals to see all around the facility. The signs and knowledgeable staff will teach you all about these furry and scaled creatures, as well as conservation tips! Whether you go with your herd or owl by yourself, there is no shortage of exploration to undertake at Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge.
Back to Nature Wildlife Refuge is located in Orlando, right on the edge of Lake Nona. Lake Nona is a beautiful up and coming community that has been continuously growing over the years. This is a great area of Central Florida for families and young couples. There are shopping plazas, local restaurants, and beautiful homes to offer something for all ages. Only a thirty minute drive from the theme parks and Downton, Lake Nona is a great place for more quiet living, while still keeping you a short distance from the fun. Interested in what Lake Nona has to offer?
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