There are lots of things to love about Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, Jupiter, Florida – it’s a beautiful forested property where you can see dozens of types of Florida wildlife; it’s 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.
It’s 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 has been around 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 it being visited by 100,000 people every year. Some time in the coming year, it will move to large site in Jupiter Farms.
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. (It’s not government funded; it depends on donations and fund-raising.)
Visiting Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
The facility isn’t huge, but there are shady trails and boardwalks through several different habitats – 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 – Florida panther, black bear, alligator and crocodile – 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. 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 and although I’ve been to many programs on Florida birds, I did learn a few things in the interesting 15-minute presentation.
- Busch Wildlife Sanctuary at Loxahatchee River District
- 2500 Jupiter Park Drive
- Jupiter, FL 33458
- 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.
Things to do near Busch Wildlife Center, Jupiter, Florida
- Overview of outdoor and natural outings in Jupiter, including restaurants and hotels.
- Jonathan Dickinson State Park for hiking, biking camping, cabins, kayaking, birding and more.
- Kayaking the wild and scenic Loxahatchee River
- Blowing Rocks Preserve: Dramatic beach is unique
- Jupiter Inlet and Lighthouse Museum
- The “secret beach” at Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge
- Kayaking to St. Lucie Preserve State Park and its remote, pristine beach
- Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, free park with native animals
- Riverbend Park is great for family bicycling, picnics, walks
- Biking Jupiter Island, scenic low-traffic beachfront road
Notes from the editor:
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.