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Check out Zoo Tampa!

Spring has sprung and it seems that all of Florida is in bloom. From the grasses to the flowering trees, life is bursting out all over Solivita and recently two manatees burst out of Zoo Tampa and are again swimming in their home waters. Lee and I are members of Zoo Tampa and recently spent a wonderful day enjoying all that Zoo Tampa offers.

For us Floridians, Zoo Tampa offers exhibits showcasing our local wildlife as well as wildlife from all over the world. In the Florida exhibit we especially love to visit the manatees and Florida panthers. Must admit, Lee and have a special affection for the Manatee Exhibit, which includes a Critical Care Center that rescues, heals, rehabilitates, and releases healthy manatees back into the wild. The Zoo has a public observation area where you can watch the rehabilitation process. Recently Zoo Tampa returned two rehabilitated manatee patients back to Florida waters. The duo, named Fern and her dependent calf, Wilber, came to Zoo Tampa’s David A. Straz Jr. Manatee Critical Care Center last May following a boat strike that caused severe injuries. When Fern arrived at the zoo, she was suffering from broken ribs and a pneumothorax (air in her chest cavity). Due to her injuries, Fern was buoyant on the water’s surface and unable to submerge to obtain food.

Zoo Tampa provided around the clock fluids and medications to keep Fern Stable and comfortable while Wilbur was able to eat greens that he required to stay close to mom. The team worked tirelessly for almost two months to get Fern to eat. By the end of summer 2019, Fern was finally showing signs of improvement and spent the next six months gaining her strength, eating over 100 lbs. of produce daily.

Today Fern and Wilbur are in their home waters in Charlotte County. Manatees face increasing dangers including boat strikes. Habitat degradation, entanglements, cold water stress and red tide blooms.

Zoo Tampa is a leader in wildlife conservation and only one of a total of four manatee critical care and rehab centers in the U.S. Zoo Tampa has cared for more than 430 injured, sick and orphaned manatees. During this time you must make a reservation to visit Zoo Tampa. Visit them on the website to see the current visiting rules at The Zoo is at 1101 W. Sligh Ave in Tampa. Parking is free and it is only 70 miles from Solivita.

If a trip to the zoo is not your “cup of tea” how about a trip to visit one of Florida’s beautiful gardens. McKee Botanical Gardens is on the East Coast of Florida. This month’s newsletter has you crossing the state, but since Solivita is in the center of everything, whatever coast you visit you can be on either the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean in 1.5 hours. In Florida, there is always something in bloom. Lee and I have spent many happy afternoons in one of Florida’s many gardens, and we both enjoy a visit to a garden whenever we find a few hours of free time to share. If you have not yet been to the McKee Botanical Gardens on Highway 1 in Vero Beach, it is a nice drive and a nice afternoon. The gardens are old and filled with orchids, dense tropical vegetation, rare trees, and ponds filled with aquatic plants. Bring the grandchildren to the children’s garden, you and the children will enjoy a wonderful adventure as you travel with them over the bridge, climb the ropes, and watch them play in the Karst Splash Garden. McKee Gardens are a wonderful adventure for the grandchildren, and a fun break for the grandparents, PLUS if you spent the morning on Vero Beach, a NICE BREAK from the hot sand and sun. Our suggestion; enjoy the beach in the morning and the cool of the afternoon in the Jungle Garden. If you would like to check out McKee Gardens their website is

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