South Florida Wildlife Center helps animals injured during Hurricane Ian

Hurricane Ian displaced so many people by wiping out their houses and businesses, but the major storm also destroyed many animal habitats and homes too.

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Hurricane Ian displaced so many people by wiping out their houses and businesses, but the major storm also destroyed many animal habitats and homes too.

Now, the South Florida Wildlife Center in Broward County is housing and rehabilitating animals from Southwest Florida.

“In our pelican habitat, we’re currently housing many of the pelicans that were brought to us from the west coast,” said Mariangelique Diaz, of the South Florida Wildlife Center.

“We’re busy ourselves! We’re still in-taking quite a few animals from our side of Florida on a regular basis, so bringing in these animals is definitely extra work.”

The center has taken in pelicans, owls, and even baby squirrels.

This owl is among the birds that the South Florida Wildlife Center is helping to rehabilitate after Hurricane Ian. (Copyright 2022 by WPLG Local10.com - All rights reserved.)

An extra three dozen animals were brought here to be cared for, to be rehabilitated, and eventually released. One peregrine falcon in particular has several bone fractures in one of its wings and receives care around the clock.

“We think that she is going to be able to regain flight based on how it is healing,” Diaz said of the falcon.

Depending on the extent of the injuries, temporary care here could last hours, days or even months.

“it’s kind of a constant shifting and moving of patients around,” Diaz said.

Many of the animals were evacuated ahead of the storm from a west coast wildlife center. Some, like a tortoise now being kept at the center in Broward, were found after Ian. Some sadly would not survive the hurricane, but it’s all about rebuilding the future for these little lives.

Much like those rebuilding to return to live on Florida’s West Coast, some of these animals will return too.

“It’s really the adult animals that we worry the most about because they are going to want a home, they want to get back to the areas they have established their territory, Diaz said.

“Some of these younger animals don’t have established territories yet, so we can rehabilitate them here and release them within our coast,” Diaz said.

One example, in particular, is a seagull, which was released on Hollywood Beach instead of Sanibel Island.

“Every species needs something special so it just warms my heart that was able to reach out that olive branch and to help them out and be able to give these animals a second chance,” Diaz said.


About the Author:

Jacey Birch anchors Local 10 News Mornings each weekday from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. She is also proud to be the animal advocate for Local 10's investigative team.