By Joel Poiley
Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my! If your family loves seeing animals, check out these cool attractions to learn more about big cats, birds and primates.
SEASIDE SEABIRD SANCTUARY
The next time you see an injured or struggling bird, think of this attraction on Gulf Boulevard in Pinellas County’s Indian Shores. “Our mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and eventually release injured, orphaned or sick birds back into the wild,” Operations Manager Eddie Gayton told Sunseeker. Operating since 1972, the sanctuary was given a facelift last year with improvements such as several new accommodations for its feathered friends. In addition to the sanctuary’s display birds, the grounds are home to countless wild birds that roam freely and nest in the trees, making it perfectly suited for bird watchers and wildlife photographers. The sanctuary is open every day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and admission is free. seabirdsanctuary.com/home.html
SUNCOAST PRIMATE SANCTUARY
For the past 50 years, the Suncoast Primate Sanctuary Foundation and its predecessor organizations have provided a safe haven for animals in need of a loving home. That also includes educating the public regarding zoological and environmental issues and serving as a regional referral center for wildlife conservation and rehabilitation. Located in Palm Harbor in Pinellas County, the Primate Sanctuary is home to more than 100 animals, including chimpanzees, orangutans, monkeys, reptiles, tropical birds and more. Open Thursday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., admission is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 3 to 10. Children under 3 are free. suncoastprimate.org
BIG CAT RESCUE
Come to Tampa, where the big cats roam, to see some of the world’s most powerful and intriguing animals. Opened in 1992, Big Cat Rescue is home to more than 80 lions, tigers, bobcats, cougars and other species, most of whom have been abandoned, abused or orphaned. It’s one of the largest accredited sanctuaries in the world, according to Public Relations Director Susan Bass, with a goal of ending the abuse of big cats in America. Walking tours are held every day except Thursday, starting at 3 p.m. Prices are $36 for adults and $19 for children under 10. Reservations and pre-payment are required for all events. bigcatrescue.org/tickets
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