There are lots of things to love about Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter Ė itís a beautiful forested property where you can see dozens of types of Florida wildlife; itís free (although they welcome donations), and it provides critical care for hurt or sick critters, who usually got that way because of interaction with us.
Itís a particularly nice stop for families, but animal lovers of all ages were enjoying the place when we visited on a recent January weekday.
It was founded about 35 years, starting strictly as a wildlife rehab center. Eventually, it added education to its mission and began a step-by-step development process that has resulted in attracting 100,000 visitors a year.
The Busch in the name comes from Peter W. Busch, whose family foundation is a key supporter. Busch owns Southern Eagle Distributing, the local Anheuser-Busch distributor.
The wildlife sanctuary is a model of partnerships in that it is located on the grounds of the Loxahatchee River District water treatment facility. (Itís not government funded; it depends on donations and fund-raising.)
Visiting Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
The facility isnít huge, but there are shady trails and boardwalks through several different habitats Ė pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, cypress wetlands and fresh water ponds.
All along the trails are well-designed enclosures for birds and beasts, ranging from some of the top predators Ė Florida panther, black bear, alligator and crocodile Ė and including deer, otter, bobcats, foxes and a wide variety of birds.
We felt lucky to see both the panther and the black bear moving about inlarge enclosures. Their enclosures are located on a trail that continues onto a wetland observation deck overlooking water-treatment ponds that attract storks, cormorants and anhinga.
Wildlife programs at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
There are animal encounters in a small outdoor amphitheater most days at 3 p.m. plus additional programming on same days. See the schedule here.
We visited on a Thursday when an owl program is presented at 12:30 p.m. We loved seeing the injured barn owl who assists in these presentations. Although Iíve been to many programs on Florida birds, I learned a few things in the interesting 15-minute presentation.
- Busch Wildlife Sanctuary at Loxahatchee River District
- 2500 Jupiter Park Drive
- Jupiter, FL 33458
- Phone:† (561) 575-3399
- Hours: Monday Ė Saturday 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Closed Sunday)
- The park has shaded picnic tables for visitors to use.
Note: Busch Wildlife Sanctuary does not pressure visitors to make a donation. Admission is free and they make it easy to donate, but it is also easy to visit without making a donation.
A recent newsletter from the sanctuary made this interesting point: “In Florida, there are no government-funded injured wildlife care facilities. If someone finds an injured wild animal, their only option for help is to find a non-profit organization that specializes in wildlife rehabilitation. There are only a handful of such organizations scattered throughout the state.” Busch Wildlife Center sees about 5,000 animals a year.