I recently had the opportunity to spend the afternoon with Kenny of the Ocala Wildlife Sanctuary O.W.L.S. in Ocala, Florida. OWLS works to rehabilitate injured animals, and reintroduce them to the wild when possible. Non-native animals and those that are permanently disabled cannot be returned to the wild. A lucky number of these animals have found a home at OWLS.
The third part of the operation at OWLS after rehabilitation and reintroduction, is education. The resident animals are used as ambassadors for visiting school groups and troubled youth, many of whom have never seen wildlife up close. As Kenny explained, it's really difficult to care about wildlife conservation if you don't understand what you're protecting. Allowing kids to experience wildlife up close, and in many cases touch or feed the animals gives them an experience that can't be replaced by TV.
Thank you to Kenny for taking his valuable time to show me around his facility. Thanks also to Kenny and his staff for continuing this labor of love.