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Florida Community Donates During "Baby Season"

At Taste of Spring, community supports the work of South Florida Wildlife Center to save young wildlife

  • This orphaned killdeer is one of the many spring babies that South Florida Wildlife Center will rehabilitate this year. The HSUS

  • The Taste of Spring silent auction is one way for community members to support animals. Steven Shapiro/www.actionreactionphotography.com

  • A young musician entertains attendees. Steven Shapiro/www.actionreactionphotography.com

  • Community members show strong support for SFWC. Steven Shapiro/www.actionreactionphotography.com

  • Some of the vegan fixings Taste of Spring attendees enjoyed. Steven Shapiro/ www.actionreactionphotography.com

  • SFWC's Sherry Schlueter. Steven Shapiro/www.actionreactionphotography.com

  • Todd Tongen, a news anchor at “Local 10” WPLG television station. Steven Shapiro/ www.actionreactionphotography.com

  • A young opossum in the SFWC nursery. The HSUS

On a beautiful April night, hundreds of supporters of the South Florida Wildlife Center (SFWC) turned out for a “Taste of Spring,” a benefit celebrating the Center’s work to save and care for young wildlife. The center is an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States and one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation centers in the nation.

Celebrating youth

Spring in Florida, as in many areas of the country, is “baby season,” a time when neighborhoods, parks, waterways, and skies fill up with wildlife parents and their young. At this time of year, the number of patients at the center increases dramatically; nearly 5,000 orphaned and injured baby mammals and birds are expected to spend time there this spring. The SFWC relies on the local community for the financial support that makes possible the emergency care and round-the-clock attention young wildlife and their parents need to survive.

More than 200 animal lovers assembled at a private home in Davie, Fla., on April 28, for the Taste of Spring, which highlighted area chefs and restaurants. The event also featured a silent auction, which took place inside the stalls of a barn on the ranch property, and a talented string quartet from the Florida Youth Orchestra—keeping with the evening’s theme of celebrating youth.

Animal-friendly feast

It was important to SFWC Executive Director Sherry Schlueter to showcase vegetarian food, and veteran chefs joined with students from the Culinary School of McFatter Technical Center to present beautiful and diverse, animal-friendly dishes, including Italian fare, organic vegetarian pizzas, gourmet Chinese crispy tofu in orange sauce, and decadent chocolate cakes. Guests, who included plenty of self-proclaimed meat-and-potato types, said they were blown away by what they tasted.

Community effort

Besides raising essential funds, the event celebrated the community support that allows the center to save so many lives in springtime and year-round. Serving the large metropolitan area of Broward, Palm Beach, and Miami-Dade counties, SFWC provides emergency rescue services, state-of-the-art triage, diagnostics, surgical and other veterinary treatment, recovery habitats, nursery rearing, and expert rehabilitative care to about 250 different species of injured and orphaned wildlife. Each year, the SFWC admits more than 12,000 injured, orphaned, abandoned, or abused animals.  

As Schlueter told the crowd, “The purpose of the evening is to celebrate wildlife baby season and to thank our generous supporters, our volunteers, and our staff. There will be no long speeches. We just want you to have a good time.”

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