The Palm Beaches is home to gorgeous sandy beaches, endless water activities, world culture, outdoor festivals, shopping and great sunshine dining options. There are fewer crowds and an ideal place to rest and recharge. As travelers to any new destination, it is important to clean ourselves up, practice sustainable tourism, preserve nature, and respect wildlife. We can all do our part to keep our Earth beautiful and support initiatives that protect animals. From endangered sea turtles to injured foxes, raccoons, and leopards, these three organizations are helping to save Florida’s wildlife in Palm Beach.
Nature Center Jumbo Limbo
The Jumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton, whose mission is to inspire stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems, was founded in 1984 and is a beacon for environmental education, research and conservation. Visitors to the nature center can take a self-guided tour and learn about sea turtles and the serious issues they face. The Turtle Conservation Team rescues sick and injured sea turtles throughout southern Palm Beach County through an on-site sea turtle rehabilitation facility. They help 50-100 sick turtles and 200-300 hatchlings annually. Some turtles with FPs arrive on their fins and have difficulty swimming and diving. Others have these tumors around the mouth and eyes which make it difficult for them to find food. Tumors are removed surgically whenever possible.
“The goal is to release every tortoise into the wild, except for those that cannot, as determined by your vet.” — Leanne Welch, Director of Gumbo Limbo الطبيعة Nature Center
FP in turtles has been linked to polluted water, where many of these turtles have been found. In addition to pollution, sea turtles are under threat from boat collisions, falling into fishing gear, loss of nesting habitats related to coastal development, vehicular movement, and other human activities such as plastic pollution. Sea turtles eat plastic garbage that humans discard, causing injury to their internal organs and intestinal obstruction that can lead to their death if left untreated. Whitney Crowder, sea turtle rehabilitation coordinator at the facility, explains that sea turtle stomachs are filled with plastic.
“We see through turtles what is happening to the environment. We need to share our message so that people know what is happening to our oceans. We are teaching them here.” – Whitney Crowder, Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Coordinator
If you want to help the turtles, you can “adopt” a resident sea turtle or hatch a turtle. All proceeds from these initiatives go toward maintenance or rehabilitation programs.
Bush Wildlife Center
The Bush Wildlife Center of Jupiter is an animal sanctuary and hospital that provides emergency and ongoing medical care to more than 6,000 animals annually. Sick, injured or orphaned animals arrive, mostly from human casualties such as car crashes, illegal shooting, poisoning, and fishing ropes. The ultimate goal at Busch Wildlife is to safely release recovered patients back to their natural habitats across Palm Beach County. But some of the animals are so badly injured that they cannot be returned to the wild so they can live the rest of their lives in the reserve. We hope these animals will inspire visitors to participate in local conservation efforts and help spread awareness about the importance of protecting wildlife.
The rescued animals called the reserve home include raccoons, foxes, owls, eagles, deer, turtles, crocodiles, parrots, skunks, bobcats, leopards, and black bears. Unlike zoos, the Bush Wildlife Center does not charge an entrance fee because their main goal is to rescue rescued animals and release them whenever possible – they are a non-profit organization. However, the donations help provide food, shelter, and medicine for the animals that are a home sanctuary, so employees can continue to do lifesaving work for the wildlife. The mountain lion also calls its home terrier, although it is originally from California. His eyes and palms were badly burned in a wildfire when he was just a cub and could never be released back into the wild and is now a Florida resident. The preserve is currently developing a larger campus on nearly 20 acres so that animals like Tahmahlah can relocate to a larger site, and the preserve can continue to rescue, rehabilitate and release Florida’s native species back into the wild after they have been treated.
Loggerhead Marinelife Center
The Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach focuses on protecting the oceans and sea turtles. In 2021, their hospital team took care of 83 sea turtles and 704 juveniles. They do not currently have any sea turtle patients in their facilities, but they continue to offer tours and offer daily programs such as the Rescue to Release Virtual Reality Theater that allows guests to experience a sea turtle flight. A new outdoor sea turtle hospital will open soon and will be able to assist turtles that require assistance during the 2022 sea turtle nesting season. Similar to Gumbo Limbo, you can also “adopt” a sea turtle at Loggerhead Marine Center once new patients arrive. Meanwhile, if you’d like to help the turtles and the land, consider joining their Tour de Trash initiative or one of their upcoming self-guided beach cleanup appointments and help keep the South Florida coast beautiful by collecting trash.