When Miami visitors have had their fill of strolling South Beach or the Art Deco District, there’s lots of local wildlife to learn about. The sunny, tropical landscapes of Miami are home to a variety of animal sanctuaries where you can meet some amazing animals and contribute to a great cause. Here are the top 5 animal sanctuaries near Miami where you can get to know the locals!
5. Pelican Harbor Seabird Station
Located on a small island in Biscayne Bay, Pelican Harbor Seabird Station is a nonprofit rescue, rehabilitation, and education center dedicated to saving seabirds. While the station’s wildlife hospital caters to a variety of birds, they are most well known for their work with pelicans.
Pelicans can be found throughout Miami’s coastal areas and are unfortunately commonly found entangled in fishing nets or injured by hooks. Since 1980, Pelican Harbor Seabird Station has been saving this iconic species along the shores of Miami. At any given time, their wildlife hospital can be filled with hundreds of patients.
Visitors can tour the wildlife hospital as well as other areas of the facility where they rehabilitate seabirds. They also host educational events such as lectures led by wildlife biologists, bird releases, and bird-watching boat tours along the bay. While you can visit Pelican Harbor Seabird Station at any time for a self-guided tour, every Saturday, a free guided tour is offered for a closer look at some resident wildlife.
4. Aguacate Sanctuary
Situated in Southwest Miami, Aguacate Sanctuary is a safe haven for rescued farm animals. Their residents include cows, pigs, goats, chickens, and more. Visitors can spend the day strolling the sanctuary to get to know all the animals and then enjoy lunch in their beautiful outdoor vegan cafe.
Aguacate Sanctuary also features gorgeous gardens, an organic fruit farm, a juice stand, a small farmer’s market, and daily yoga classes. Private and group tours and classes are also available for a more behind-the-scenes look at caring for all the animals.
A must-stop for all animal lovers, Aguacate Sanctuary offers a unique peaceful oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Miami!
3. Everglades Outpost
Located in the historic Redlands District of Southwest Miami, Everglades Outpost is a nonprofit wildlife sanctuary home to several unique species from alligators and crocodiles to panthers and wolves.
The wildlife hospital at Everglades Outpost has been caring for injured wildlife since 1991. While their goal for rescuing wildlife is to rehabilitate and release, some patients have severe injuries that require special care or come from conditions in which they can no longer adapt to the wild.
Visitors can tour the sanctuary and learn all about the different animals and their unique backgrounds. Everglades Outpost also offers guided tours, educational classes, and behind-the-scenes animal care tours. For the more adventurous, you can even book a tour to observe alligators underwater. This tour is led by a wildlife expert and conducted behind a barrier to ensure safety.
2. F.R.I.E.N.D.S Horse Rescue and Sanctuary
Located just 30 minutes outside of Miami in the town of Southwest Ranches, F.R.I.E.N.D.S Horse Rescue and Sanctuary is a one-of-a-kind safe haven for horses. F.R.I.E.N.D.S stands for Florida Research Institute for Equine Nurturing, Development, and Safety. The founders of F.R.I.E.N.D.S have been rescuing horses and helping the fight against equine infectious anemia for over 30 years.
F.R.I.E.N.D.S offers a variety of special programs that allow visitors to learn more about and get to know some of their resident horses. They also offer educational classes and volunteer opportunities for children and adults.
1. Flamingo Gardens
One of the most well-known nonprofit animal sanctuaries in Florida, Flamingo Gardens is about 30 minutes from Miami and is home to amazing wildlife and gorgeous botanical gardens. Flamingo Gardens was established in 1927 and has been dedicated to the conservation of South Florida’s local flora and fauna for nearly a century.
Flamingo Gardens spans over 60 acres and houses rare and endangered animals, plants, and historic sites. The sanctuary is home to several notable species of Florida wildlife including alligators, black bears, and panthers. There are also hundreds of birds across their aviary and famous flamingo pond. All the animals at Flamingo Gardens are permanently injured or otherwise unadaptable to the wild for various reasons.
In addition to learning about all the animals, visitors can tour the historic Wray Home Museum, the original home of the sanctuary’s founders. There is also a tram tour through the wild areas of the sanctuary where visitors can see the tropical forests and wetlands where many of the rehabilitated birds are released.