Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
|Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park|
|Location||Citrus County, Florida, United States|
|Nearest city||Homosassa Springs, Florida|
|Governing body||Florida Department of Environmental Protection|
Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is located near Homosassa Springs, Florida, in the United States. The park is one of the best places in the state to view manatees. Visitors can get close to the animals on a floating observatory. Black bears, bobcats, white-tailed deer, American alligators, and river otters can also been seen in the park. The park is also home to the hippopotamus Lu, famously known for his performances in many movies for the past 40 years. The park is officially named Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park in honor of Elmyra Felburn Schiller (1943 – 2009), a benefactor of the Florida state park system.
Native Americans lived in the area of Homosassa Springs, Florida long before the first non-indigenous people entered the area. Within 200 years of encounter the original inhabitants of the area were decimated by disease and colonial warfare. Soon after the area was re-settled by several groups of Native Americans displaced from other areas, including the Seminoles and Miccosukee.
The springs are a historical attraction with documented accounts of tourism dating back to the 1880s. In the 1920s the attraction was expanded to several structures which no longer exist, and a public swimming area was located at the spring. The 1940s led to more expansion, along with the construction of the first underwater observatory which consisted of an iron tank with small windows on each side.
Lu is the oldest hippopotamus in North America, and the only animal in the park not native to Florida. Lu was born at the San Diego Zoo in 1960. He appeared in the TV shows Daktari and Cowboy in Africa. He has lived in the park since 1964.
- Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park Unit Management Plan, June 3, 2005, Florida Department of Environmental Protection, accessed 28 Dec 2012
- Strawbridge, Susan (January 20, 2017). "Celebrating Lu the Hippo's 57th Birthday". Hernando Sun. Retrieved May 4, 2018.
- Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park at Florida State Parks
- Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park at Absolutely Florida
- Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park at Wildernet
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