Opossums, raccoons, squirrels, song birds, owls and bats are just some of the species that find their way to the Sawgrass Nature Center Wildlife Hospital.
To help its efforts, the Coral Springs-based nonprofit organized the recent Brews for the Beasts fundraiser at Sawgrass Brewing Company that netted almost $1,000 and attracted about 50 people.
“We were able to reach a wider audience. A lot of the people who came were actually coming to the brewery that night, and when they found out [about the fundraiser] were more than happy to contribute,” said Robin Reccasina, the center’s operations director.
The center’s mission is to educate the public about South Florida’s diverse wildlife and caring for sick, injured or orphaned native animals.
“We’re located in a sports complex. Because we are not a typical nature center, it gives us a unique opportunity to talk about urban wildlife and the things they will come in contact with on a daily basis and issues that affect urban life,” Reccasina said.
Reccasina said the center treats nearly 600 animals a year.
Temptations Catering, which sponsored the event along with the Coral Springs brewery, has worked with the nature center the past five years, said owner Maurice Mizrahi.
“It really, really is amazing what they are doing out there in a small space,” Mizrahi said.
The center, which was founded in 1995, is fairly small with some specialized equipment and a certified wildlife rehabilitator on staff. There are no veterinarians on staff, but there are some local vets who offer their services, Reccasina said.
“If a case comes in we can’t handle and it’s a critical case, there’s a whole network of wildlife rehabs across Florida,” she said. “We get animals transferred to us; it’s a close-knit community.”
Wendy Wangberg is part of that community, both as a board member and event attendee.
“When people realize how wonderful the wildlife of South Florida is, they become more sensitive to their needs,” she said.
The center also works with schools, either by visiting them or arranging field trips. A weekly preschool program and environmental learning camps are also offered.
Its next major fundraising event is Brunch with the Bunnies and Friends on March 28.
For more information, visit Sawgrassnaturecenter.org or call 954-752-9453.
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