The turtle sanctuary on Sanibel Island, Florida

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Crow Wildlife Center on Sanibel Island

The turtle sanctuary on Sanibel Island

Animal welfare in the USA is an individual matter! On Sanibel Island you take it very seriously. Not only that, the bird sanctuary - the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge goes back to the initiative of one man, namely the cartoonist "Ding" Darling. No, near the sanctuary is CROW, the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, which is a type of rehabilitation center for wild animals that have been injured. Here is the turtle sanctuary on Sanibel Island. Treatment rooms and enclosures in which birds, raccoons, opossums and turtles are cared for back to health are located on an area of ​​around four hectares of land. Then they are released back into nature. Ecotourism Offers in Florida offer opportunities to take a look behind the scenes.

The CROW Wildlife Center

Like so many projects of this kind in the United States, CROW started as a result of individual initiatives. In 1968, Shirley Walter, a resident of Sanibel Island, found a tern injured by a car. Because she couldn't find a facility that would take care of the animal, she took it home. She told the story to her friends. It didn't take long for a group of volunteers to band together. They are dedicated to helping wildlife. This is how CROW also developed into a turtle sanctuary. CROW was founded and in the first year of its existence more than 500 calls for help were received.


surrogate mother
“Substitute mother” for young animals in the turtle sanctuary

Who finances the turtle sanctuary?

Funding for CROW comes from visitors' admission fees at the Visitor Information Center. There, visitors can find out more about the work of the project. There are events that collect money for the upkeep of the facility. There are members who help keep the organization alive with their contributions. And every year it is decided anew whether money will flow from the state coffers. How successful these measures are is shown by the size of the facility. But you can also see it in the fact that you have to generate more than a million dollars a year to keep the project alive. With success!


Mother's heart in the turtle sanctuary
With this "substitute heart" one simulates a mother animal in the turtle sanctuary

Who works in the turtle sanctuary?

The CROW staff consists partly of veterinarians and nurses who are permanently employed. There is also a program for veterinary students who do an internship here. In this way you gain experience in dealing with wild animals. The students come from the USA, but also from abroad. A year ago, CROW director Steve Greenstein explains, 36 students were working on the project. They do this on a voluntary basis. They stay here for several weeks to six months, receiving accommodation and food in exchange for their support in the project.

CROW's veterinary clinic

Today, CROW also owns a veterinary clinic where the animals are treated. They are nursed back to health until they are able to survive in nature again. Rachel Rainbolt, who is responsible for education at the animal welfare project, tells us: “The animals stay with us for four to five weeks before we release them again. But there are also animals that can no longer take care of themselves. For example, we have two ospreys that have been with us for years. We have integrated them into our rehabilitation program. They take care of osprey hatchlings that arrive injured. In doing so, they teach them behavior that is typical of their species. Only then do we release them again.”


Lettuce donations for the turtle sanctuary
Supermarkets donate lettuce to the turtle sanctuary

Commitment to wildlife

The extent to which the population of Sanibel Island is committed to protecting wild animals was shown in 2004 when Hurricane Charley devastated Sanibel Island. He destroyed the student accommodation. The islanders then opened their doors to the students. In this way, they also ensured the continued existence of the institution. Today the students live in a building that was built for them. The fact that the commitment to the turtle sanctuary has now reached the island administration illustrates a regulation that applies on Sanibel Island. Then everyone says “lights off from 22.00 p.m.”. This is to prevent light from luring the gopher tortoises from the sea to the interior of the island. There they are particularly threatened by car traffic during the tourist season.


Crow Turtle sanctuary
The Healing Winds Visitor Education Center in the turtle sanctuary

The turtle sanctuary near the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge

Anyone interested in the CROW project and the turtle sanctuary near the "Ding" Darling Wildlife Refuge is welcome. The Visitor Center is located at 3883 Sanibel Captiva Road (Tel. 239 – 472 3644). Using case studies, film reports about the treatment of the animals and about the project, you can find out how the wild animals are treated here.

Antje Gerstenecker also has Sanibel Island as a paradise for shell seekers discovered.


CROW Wildlife Center Sanibel Island
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Source The turtle sanctuary: research on site with the support of CROW

Text The Turtle Sanctuary: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline
Photos The Turtle Sanctuary: © Copyright Monika Fuchs and TravelWorldOnline

The turtle sanctuary on Sanibel Island, Florida

Monika Fuchs

Monika Fuchs and Petar Fuchs are the authors and publishers of the Slow Travel and Enjoyment travel blog TravelWorldOnline Traveller. You have been publishing this blog since 2005. TravelWorldOnline has been online since 2001. Your topics are Trips to Savor and wine tourism worldwide and Slow Travel. During her studies, Monika Fuchs spent some time in North America, where she traveled to the USA and Canada - sometimes together with Petar Fuchs - and spent a research year in British Columbia. This strengthened her thirst for knowledge, which she pursued for 6 years Adventure Guide for Rotel Tours and then for 11 years as Study tour guide for Studiosus Reisen tried to breastfeed all over the world. She constantly expanded her travel regions, but curiosity still gnawed at her: “What is beyond the horizon? What else is there to discover in this city? Which people are interesting here? What do you eat in this region?” These are the questions she is now trying to answer as a freelance travel journalist (her articles have appeared in DIE ZEIT, 360° Canada, 360° USA, etc.), among others. travel writer and travel blogger answers in many countries around the world. Petar Fuchs produces the videos on this blog as well as on YouTube. Monika Fuchs from TravelWorldOnline is below Germany's top 50 bloggers in 2021 Other Information about Monika and Petar Fuchs. Recommendations on LinkedIn from tourism experts Further recommendations from cooperation partners and tourism experts Professional experience Monika on LinkedIn