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Learning About Wildlife and Conservation at Kowiachobee Animal Preserve

Kowiachobee Animal Preserve is a non-profit educational facility located in Collier County in Southwest Florida, just a few minutes from Naples. KAP rescues and adopts exotic animals that might have otherwise be euthanized or released into the wild because people that had purchased them as pets or for other purposes could not care for them anymore. They have a little bit of everything from farm animals like turkeys, horses and donkeys to wallabies, Patagonian maras and big cats.

Rooster, wallaby and mara at Kowiachobee

Rooster, wallaby and mara at Kowiachobee

KAP’s primary focus is elementary aged hands-on education. At Kowiachobeen children can feed and pet Maggi the Percheron horse, dwarf goats, skunks, wallabies, iguanas and boas. What makes Kowiachobee different from  a zoo or a petting farm is that there is a wide array of exotic animals and that many of the animals there have stories we can learn from: like Diablo the jaguar who suffers from arthritis because he was kept in a concrete floored cage by his previous owner.

Maggie the Percheron horse at Kowiachobee Animal Preserve

Maggie the Percheron horse at Kowiachobee Animal Preserve

There is nothing like being in contact with nature to help people develop an understanding for the importance of conservation and it all starts with kids. Kids and their attitude towards the environment and the animals will determine what the future is for many species. They will be making judgments that will affect not only their future, but also the future of the animals living in those habitats and locations.

baby dwarf goat

Baby dwarf goat, just 4 days old.

We had been at Kowiachobee last year and got to meet and pet Czar and Shaumbay, an African lion and a Bengal tiger. The kids where literally jumping up and down with excitement when I told them we would be going back to see how Czar and Shaumbay had grown and to meet the new 11 week old baby tiger Sabeena.

Czar and Shaumbay at Kowiachobee Animal Preserve

When we arrived we where met by a volunteer who took our family on a tour showing us every animal and telling us about their species, the specific animal’s personality and about how they had gotten to Kowiachobee. This made the experience so personal and the kids really felt like they got to know each animal and connect with them because they where learning so much about them individually.

Some of Kowiachobees big cats.

Some of Kowiachobee’s big cats.

My children had the time of their lives. They got to pet a very playful wallaby, held a 4 day old baby dwarf goat who still had her umbilical cord hanging from her belly, witnessed how moody a huge iguana can be when she is in mating season, realized how cuddly a skunk is and that a boa has the softest skin. All of this before we even got to the big cats. Kowiachobee has a total of 11 big cats including lions, tigers, jaguars, pumas and panthers. Our tour guide knew what each one of the big cats liked and told us how each one identified and connected to different staff members and volunteers.

Petting the animals at Kowiachobee Animal Preserve

Petting the animals at Kowiachobee Animal Preserve.

Finally we got to where Czar and Shaumbay where and we just couldn’t believe the little babies we played with just a year ago where now more than 200 pounds. Since they grew together they formed an amazing bond. They are in the same cage and play all day like siblings.

Czar and Shumbay when then where babies in 2012.

Czar and Shumbay when they where babies in 2012.

After saying hi to our old friends we met Sabeena who was a little tiered and cranky and was more interested in chasing butterflies than anything else. The kids loved that she was on a pink harness just like a dog and petted her as she ran around. She was so alert ,looking at every little thing that moved around her.  As she walked on the side of Czar and Shaumbay’s cage we couldn’t help thinking how amazing it was that she would become as big as them in just one year and double her weight to around 400 pounds by the time she turns two. If you want to be able to pet Sabeena the baby tiger you must hurry and visit them soon because big cats can only be petted if they are under 25lb and baby tigers grow fast!

Sabeena at Kowiachobee Animal Preserve

Sabeena on the prowl at Kowiachobee Animal Preserve.

Families, schools, social groups, and communities can visit the preserve and learn about the animals they care for by making an appointment. Kowiachobee survives through the support of the community so they ask visitors to leave a donation. They also have animal sponsorship packages. Their child sponsorship package is a wonderful program for kids that gives children the opportunity to sponsor an animal for only $10 quarterly ($40 annually). The children can choose from the animals available on their website and receive a personalized certificate of sponsorship, information on the animal they are sponsoring, species facts and a quarterly animal update e-newsletter along with their name included in the Kowiachobee Animal Preserve Wall of Fame. Check out their website to see how you can volunteer and for a donation wish list.

Always remember that you have to be careful with animals, though.  Baby tigers like puppies or kittens like to chew on things and as you can see in the pictures below this little one was ready to chew on my little girl’s ear.  🙂

Making sure the playful tiger doesn't chew on my little girl's ear. :)

My husband making sure the playful tiger doesn’t chew on my little girl’s ear. 🙂

You can learn more about Kowiachobee on their website and like them on their Facebook page to get updates on the animals. KAP is located on 2861 4th Ave SE, Naples, Florida and you can make an appointment to visit them by calling them at: (239) 352-5387

I was not compensated in any way for this post. These are my honest opinions and I am just sharing our experience at Kowiachobee with my readers.

About the author

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

Paula moved from her native Guatemala to SW Florida with her husband and two children and together they are discovering what it means to live life between two languages.

Paula studied architecture who now makes a living as a freelance writer, traveler and amateur photographer. She started her writing & publishing career as the editor of Bebé y Mamá, the first parenting magazine in Guatemala. She is the founder of www.GrowingUpBilingual.com and www.365thingsswfl.com and writes articles in Spanish and English for both magazines and the web on travel, food and bicultural and bilingual parenting .

When she is not on a plane or road trip she likes to create recipes inspired in the flavors of her native Guatemala.

Permanent link to this article: http://growingupbilingual.com/2013/latino-parenting/learning-about-wildlife-and-conservation-at-kowiachobee-animal-preserve/


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  1. Jennifer Hall

    Amazing! I did not know about this place. We are always looking for places to visit, I will be checking into this. Thank you.

  2. Nickida

    Oh wow that looks and sounds like an amazing place. Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Nickida recently posted…Biannual Blogathon Wrap UpMy Profile

  3. Erinn S

    I am so jealous they got up and close with all the baby Tigers! My son would be in heaven!
    Erinn S recently posted…See The Rigoletto: Live in HD at a Theater near you #GiveawayMy Profile

  4. Wendy @ ABCs and Garden Peas

    Wow…my son would love this, but my husband would love it even more! Anywhere that he can see a big cat is a favorite!

  5. Kelly R

    My family would love to go their, great pictures and thank you for sharing..
    Kelly R recently posted…Wordless Wednesday – 1/30/13My Profile

  6. Ashley B.

    LOVE all the pictures!!!! Looks as though a wonderful time was had.
    Ashley B. recently posted…Surviving a Polar Plunge:101My Profile

    1. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

      Thanks Ashley we sure did, we all love animals and this was a wonderful experience.
      Paula – Growing Up Bilingual recently posted…Bebe Bilingual Makes Learning Easy with a Fiesta of Colors – Flash Cards and Valentine’s Card GiveawayMy Profile

  7. Adam Beck - Bilingual Monkeys

    Paula, this is a lovely post! And wonderful photos, too! (I’m glad your daughter still has both her ears!)

    It sounds like such a great place–I wish it wasn’t half a world away from us!

    Anyway, I’m going to share this article with my kids later today. We love animals!

    Cheers from Japan,

    Adam Beck – Bilingual Monkeys recently posted…What Positive Action Have You Been Putting Off When It Comes to the Minority Language?My Profile

    1. Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

      Thanks Adam. My kids are crazy about animals and we love this place thanks for stopping by and taking the time to read about our experience. 🙂
      Paula – Growing Up Bilingual recently posted…Bebe Bilingual Makes Learning Easy with a Fiesta of Colors – Flash Cards and Valentine’s Card GiveawayMy Profile

  8. Christy Maurer

    Such a great post! I love places like this. We still love going to the zoo which is really the closest place for us to go to see animals.
    Christy Maurer recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday (3) Light by Michael GrantMy Profile

  9. Athena

    That is so cool and there is nothing more precious than the interaction between small children and small animals.
    Athena recently posted…Cook n’ Grow Event – Blogger OppMy Profile

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