After our Atlanta adventures we traveled to Jupiter, Florida. On our first full day there we went to Busch Wildlife Sanctuary where they are dedicated to wildlife preservation through conservation, rehabilitation and education. Established in 1983, the sanctuary was originally designed to care for sick and injured wild animals.
In 1989 they were able to expand their efforts into education and outreach, both critical to protecting indigenous wildlife and their habitats. In 1994 they created an essential partnership with the Peter W. Busch Family Foundation then with the Loxahatchee River District in 1997, transforming their hospital into the lush, sanctuary and education center we visited.
Like most shelters or sanctuaries I have ever been to…they could do more if they had more. In the small space they have, they are caring for and protecting some of Florida’s most magnificent natural, living resources.
The space is beautiful, teeming with life. The walking trails are a symphony of frogs, turtles and tropical birds. They were loud and we were silent as we walked slowly and reverently through their space. After all, they are there because we have failed to protect them in some way. We have destroyed their homes, orphaned their children and declawed the largest of them (endangered Florida Panthers) to become our house cats.
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary treats and cares for over 5,000 wild animals a year. According to their site, “Nearly 90% of the animals treated at the Sanctuary’s wildlife hospital have suffered from some type of human related injury, which include collisions with automobiles, fishing line entanglement, illegal gun shots, electrocutions, poisonings, attacks by dogs and cats, and many more.”
One of the special events offered there is an outdoor, Friday morning yoga class held in the sanctuary in conjunction with Jupiter Yoga. Lead by yogi Stacy O’Neill and held under the shade of a thatched roof, it was one of the wildest experiences I have ever had. In what can only be explained as a karmic occurrence, I found out about class on the Thursday we arrived in Jupiter. We had just enough time to secure two spots in class, then enlist Sandy’s sister to find us yoga mats to borrow for class the next day. We only planned to be in Jupiter for a few days and one of them happened to be a Friday morning. Perfect timing.
We arrived at Busch’s just as Stacy was pulling up. We followed her through the sanctuary to our yoga spot, nestled between the Sandhill Cranes, turtle pond and wading bird area. Because the three of us were some of the first humans to walk through that morning, the wild residents were relaxed and curious. It felt magical, scandalous even to be there before anyone else as if we were discovering it for the first time.
The song birds sang and the musk of the White-tailed deer blanketed the air. We arrived at our spot, laid down our yoga mats, then had several minutes to explore as the other students began to arrive. I walked to the turtle pond and watched as they lazily hurled themselves onto a half submerged wooden dock for lounging. It was difficult to turn away, but I returned to my mat, ready to expand and allow.
Stacy is the type of yoga instructor that yoga students hope for. She is gentle, open and nurturing. She pushes those who are ready to go deeper and helps those of us who aren’t by helping us find our edge and stay safely there.
As she lead us through our poses I felt the sun stream past my arms, heard the cranes sing out in joy and I silently watched as the elegant, white Ibis walked past my mat. It felt surreal. I can’t think of anything more vegany than doing yoga in an animal sanctuary. After class we spent several more hours exploring the sanctuary, enjoying this sacred, blessed space. It was beautiful to be there.
Now, whenever we travel I make it a point to Google animal sanctuary to see if anything comes up. Had I not done that, I never would have found Busch’s. I am so glad I did.
I look forward to sharing the rest of our Florida adventures with you.
Have a delicious weekend.