The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge has begun plans to move its operations to the Okaloosa Island golf center property. Partnering with the Okaloosa County School district and other area environmental organizations, the Refuge will create a unique environmental education facility offering learning opportunities to students at all levels, including our new charter school the Academy Of Zoological Sciences . By utilizing the facility’s newly designed indoor-outdoor classrooms, nature trails, surgery centers, necropsy labs and live animal exhibits, the center will provide premium educational tools to promote student development not only in the sciences, but all areas of learning. The center’s educators created a curriculum that focuses on the surrounding environment and hands-on experiences that will encourage students to employ skills in reasoning, logic, and mathematics. The new center will be a flagship for future centers throughout the nation by becoming the first of its kind to incorporate the use of live animals and wildlife rehabilitation to traditional environmental education programs. This will enhance the children's hands-on experiences and help instill a love for nature in everyone who attends.
Moving to Okaloosa Island will not only allow the refuge to participate in the huge educational initiative, but will also provide growth opportunities in other areas as well. The construction of a new fully functioning wildlife veterinary clinic will allow our staff to provide more accurate and successful care to our patients. The refuge will expand services in marine mammal rehabilitation with the addition of new pools to house dolphins, small whales, and sea turtles. Finally, with 4 acres of land set aside for exhibit habitats, the refuge will be able to house more non-releasable animals such as Florida Panthers, North American River Otters, and the critically endangered Red Wolf.
The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge will seek accreditation with the American Association of Zoos and Aquariums becoming the Florida panhandle's only AZA accredited animal facility. This distinction will set the refuge aside from all other local animal parks and organizations by proving that we meet and excel at providing the best animal care possible; putting the refuge in the same class with most national and international zoological parks.