Homosassa Springs

Homosassa Springs, Florida

December 2003


We took a day trip to Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. Homosassa is an Seminole Indian word meaning pepper, so named because of the little red pepper berries on the trees around here. So the Pepper river or inlet goes from the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park visitor center and flows into the Homosassa River that eventually empties into the Gulf of Mexico. They have a pontoon boat that carried us from the visitor center to the park entrance about a mile down the Pepper River. Along the river you can see Wood Ducks and other water fowl and in warmer weather alligators. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a rehabilitation center for manatees and other injured birds. It also houses a 37 year old hippopotamus named Lucifer. When the state took over the park Lucifer was one of a number of exotic animals used in films that they had to find homes for. It seemed all the other animals found a new home except Lucifer. They couldn't find a home for a 9,000 pound hippopotamus. So the state decided to keep Lucifer the movie star and retire him to his own pen. They also have a couple of big cats and a Florida Black Bear that wasn't on exhibit today because his habitat was being remolded. It was a beautiful day and we had a great time.


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Homosassa springs is a constant 74 degrees and flows into the Gulf of Mexico. In the winter when the Gulf cools off the manatees hang out here.

We leave the visitor center on a pontoon boat and head west on the Pepper River toward Homosassa Springs.

A Snake bird suns himself after diving into the river to spear his breakfast.

Cruising west on the Pepper River.

Wood ducks along the shore.

Entrance to the park after docking the pontoon boat.

I didn't realize how huge manatees are until I saw them up close.

These manatees are 12 to 14 feet long and weight up to 1,300 pounds.

A ranger monitors the manatees and the scuba divers in the spring.

This volunteer had an education program about a Indigo snake.

Fish swim up the Homosassa River from the Gulf of Mexico.

Fishermen sit in their boats in the Gulf trying to hook the big ones, but they are mostly here because of the warm water.

This is Lucifer the hippopotamus, he stinks.

Here is what Florida is famous for. The alligators.

Two of them actually moved in the 30 minutes we were watching them.

A volunteer is throwing haves of cantaloupes into Lucifer's open mouth. YUCK!!

There are also lots of turtles in Florida.

Here are a couple of baby alligators.

They even have three of our national birds. The American Bald Eagle.

This is the Crested Caracara.

I think this is a red tail hawk.

There is a pen with two Grey Foxes in it.

There is an underwater viewing area where we could watch the manatees swim by.

This manatee is eating a carrot.

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