A Visit To Peace River Wildlife Center

Located on the Ponce de Leon Park overlooking Charlotte Harbor, the Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda is within easy reach of both Fort Myers and Sarasota. The center has two aims: to rescue/rehabilitate animals and to educate humans.

Birds and Wildlife at the Peace River Sanctuary

Most of the 2,000 creatures that pass through the wildlife sanctuary each year are injured birds including hawks, owls, bald eagles, ospreys, pelicans, egrets, herons and sandhill cranes.

MustDo.com | Bella, a glove-trained great horned owl at Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Photo courtesy Peace River Wildlife Center

Large mammals such as Florida panthers, brown pelicans, Key deer and Florida black bears are also treated at the sanctuary. They may be suffering from illness, injury or may have been a victim of a road traffic accident.

MustDo.com | Rescued baby bobcat recovers at Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Photo courtesy Peace River Wildlife Center

Rescued Wildlife

This local wildlife center has been operating in Southwest Florida for 33 years. You never know quite know what you will see on your visit as the center is a rehab and recovery center for injured wildlife such as opossums, bobcats and screech owls. The ultimate aim is to provide veterinary care and temporary food and shelter before releasing the wildlife back into their native habitat.

MustDo.com | An injured mother Virginia opossum protects her babies in a hospital cage at Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Photo courtesy Peace River Wildlife Center

MustDo.com | Luna, a leucistic (or albino) screech owl, is one of Peace River Wildlife Center's most popular residents. Punta Gorda, Florida.

Photo courtesy Peace River Wildlife Center

The Peace River Wildlife Center also provides a long-term home to over 120 animals and birds that have been maimed or permanently injured and can no longer fend for themselves in the wild. These include a pair of bald eagles, a flock of pelicans and an entertaining fish crow that quacks like a duck! Feeding time is always a good time to see the wildlife, especially the pelicans artfully catching the fish thrown by the staff.

MustDo.com | Injured or rehabilitating pelicans at Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Photo courtesy Peace River Wildlife Center

MustDo.com | Bald Eagle recovers at Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda, Florida.

Photo courtesy Peace River Wildlife Center

Planning Your Visit to the Peace River Wildlife Center

The Peace River Wildlife Center is open daily for visitors from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Opt for a self-guided tour or request a guided tour with volunteers when available, and get a personal introduction to each of the residents. You may come across docents giving talks about the birds and owls as you enjoy exploring the facility.

The sanctuary has a ¼ mile long boardwalk through the mangroves and wetland areas and around the spacious aviaries and enclosures. Nearby amenities include two fishing piers, a playground, beach, picnic tables and plenty of unspoiled Florida scenery – everything you need for a family day out!

MustDo.com | Peace River Wildlife Center is a non-profit organization caring for injured birds and wildlife. Free to visit, it makes a fun day out in Punta Gorda.

Photo courtesy Peace River Wildlife Center

Although the Peace River Wildlife Center is free to visit, donations are very welcome. Staffed by a team of volunteers who support the dedicated professional staff, this wildlife non-profit depends upon donations, bequests, gift shop sales and aluminum can recycling to fund the ongoing work.

If you are visiting the Peace River Wildlife Center, why not take a gift for the residents? Eggs, walnuts, paper towels, aluminum cans and galloon size zipper plastic bags are always appreciated and help keep the running costs down for this worthy organization.

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Written by:

Nita Ettinger is the co-publisher for Siesta Publications and the Editor in Chief for Must Do Visitor Guides. Must Do Visitor Guides provides Southwest Florida visitor information through printed publications and the website MustDo.com. Must Do Visitor Guides are published bi-annually and are available at no cost in Sarasota, Lee, and Collier County chambers of commerce, visitor information centers, select Southwest Florida hotels, and wherever free publications are found.

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