Dawn Duckett, Volunteer of the Year 2010 shares some enrichment time with Freddie the lynx. Duckett has worked with Freddie all of his life. He is one of three lynx at Elmira's living next door to Ginger, a rare Spanish lynx.


There is a place in Wimauma, only about five or six miles south of Sun City off U.S. Hwy. 301, that is home to some magnificent creatures. These animals live on seven acres tucked away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, but to the volunteers at Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary, these animals’ well being is a top priority.
The animal asylum is named after one of its residents, a 9-year-old black bear Elmira.
The sanctuary is home to mostly big cats and bears, but there is a variety of species that make up the 50 residents at Elmira’s. All but one of these majestic animals was born in captivity. This sanctuary is a place for animals that could not survive in the wild.
“All the animals have their own personalities and they need a home,” said volunteer director Deborah Kaprive.
Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary, which is a non-profit organization, has always been funded by generous donations and fundraisers.
“We are entirely staffed by volunteers,” said Kaprive.
After much consideration and gaining approval from the USDA, Elmira’s sanctuary is now open to the public for tours. Tours will be held every first and third Saturday of every month from 11a.m. to 12 Noon. Admission for the tours is $10 for adults, and $5 for ages 17 and under and free for children 3 and under.
“The tours are a lot of fun and we are excited to be open to the public,” said Kaprive.
Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary is always in need of qualified volunteer help.
“There is something for everyone here to help with,” said Kaprive, “We need all the same things that every household needs.”
Volunteering is not all fun and games here though, but helping the animals is very rewarding.
“You won’t be hugging cougars; these are wild animals,” said Kaprive.
The staff is dedicated to making the animals that call this place home comfortable and happy. One visit to the sanctuary and it is easy to see that these animals are happy to call this place home.
“We aren’t here to entertain; we are a sanctuary,” said Kaprive.
For more information about volunteering, donating, or becoming a member of Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary visit them online at www.elmiraswildlife.org.
On Sunday, August 21, Elmira’s will celebrate its official grand opening with an event called “Thai one on for the Tigers.” This event will be held from 4-8 p.m. It will consist of authentic Thai food, live music and a tour of the animals. Admission will be $25 in advance and $30 at the door.
To contact Elmira’s Wildlife Sanctuary, call (941) 776-8975 or visit www.elmiraswildlife.org. Elmira’s is located at 13910 Seminole Trl. in Wimauma. Take exit 246 off I-75.


By Josh Massaro

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Assignment Editor Kate Quesada started working at the Osprey Observer in 2004 after graduating from the University of South Florida with a masters degree in Mass Communications. Since then, she has held various positions at the paper and has been working as the assignment editor since January 2020. She lives in Lithia with her husband Mike and sons Dylan and Max and stays active in the community on school PTA boards and volunteering with local organizations.