The gopher tortoise is the only tortoise found east of the Mississippi River, and in Florida, the species is listed as threatened. It faces a variety of threats, but the biggest is habitat loss, due primarily to urbanization and development. Their fragmented habitat also leads to a higher risk of being killed by cars. An organization in Florida works to rehab these animals when they’ve been injured in circumstances like that, and thanks to you, we’re lending them a hand.
The South Florida Wildlife Center has been providing veterinary care for wildlife in Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties for more than 50 years. Among the 10,000 to 12,000 animals they’re expecting to help this year is a female gopher tortoise that was rescued from a busy intersection and suffering from injuries to her front legs and shell.
The veterinarians at the center were able to help her heal and get her back to her usual activities. However, there wasn’t enough information to know where she should be released, and while they wait to figure that out, she needs a place to stay. This is where you come in.
With your help, Greater Good Charities’ Rescue Rebuild program is teaming up with the South Florida Wildlife Center this month to revamp their facility, and the main focus will be on renovating an existing enclosure for the gopher tortoise. The project will involve installing dig protection around the enclosure’s perimeter, adding sand mounds that will allow for burrowing, adding native landscaping, and installing a visual barrier high enough to allow staff to observe the tortoises without startling them.
Helping the gopher tortoise is important for their ecosystem, as they’re a keystone species that many other species rely on, like those that use old tortoise burrows. Species that do so include lizards, insects, burrowing owls, snakes, and small mammals.
Much like the gopher tortoise, the South Florida Wildlife Center also helps a variety of species thrive. Their renovation project will also involve finishing a squirrel enclose, building a roof over a shorebird enclosure that helps species like herons and pelicans, and constructing new enclosures for a bird nursery.
These other projects will help animals like the newborn gray squirrels that required nearly hourly care after they were abandoned by their mother, a bald eagle with a wing fracture that has been rehabbed and is being prepared for its ultimate release, and a burrowing owl that was suffering from limited mobility and had flown into a window.
These stories are just the tip of the iceberg, and thanks in part to your contributions, the wildlife center is able to keep providing needed care to these injured and orphaned animals. If you’d like to help further with the facility’s renovation, click below!