Get ahead of the pack when it comes to uncovering Tallahassee’s most extraordinary animal species. From colorful flurries of monarch butterflies to majestic herds of native manatees, Tallahassee is home to a unique variety of both rare and endangered wildlife species. Read this article to learn more about Tallahassee’s most spectacular animals and the everevolving efforts in place to protect & preserve them for future generations.
Loggerhead Sea Turtles
At the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory, you’ll get the chance to marvel at the collection of sea water tanks and aquariums that house some of the ocean’s most beautiful and bizarre creatures. You’ll also get an upclose look at their most rare residents, the Loggerhead Sea Turtles. With a conservation program founded in 1964, the GSML is one of the region’s oldest advocates for the turtles’ legal protection and rehabilitation.
The Wakulla Springs State Park is a haven for wild manatees. As one of Florida’s most beloved native species, the manatees here have made a home amongst dozens of other impressive animals. A great way to catch a glimpse of these lovable sea cows is to book a river boat tour, where you’ll drift over the crystal clear waters of the Wakulla River and marvel at some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the area.
For over 25 years, the Tallahassee Museum has served an important role contributing to the return of red wolves. After the population fell to dangerous levels, the Tallahassee Museum took initiative by participating in the the Red Wolf Species Survival Plan. As a result, it is estimated that 110 red wolves are now surviving and thriving in the wild, roaming their native habitat and some of those red wolves were born and raised right here at the Tallahassee Museum. There's more wildlife to see at the Tallahassee Museum like Bald Eagles, black bears and even rare white squirrels that roam around the facility.
For nature lovers, the annual fall monarch butterfly migration is one of the most memorable events of the year. As temperatures begin to drop, monarch butterflies begin their southbound journey and arrive in swarms at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. You can celebrate this spectacle of nature and catch an unbelievable view of the migration up-close-andpersonal every October at the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge Monarch Butterfly Festival.
The Apalachicola National Forest plays a critical role by providing refuge for the red-cockaded woodpeckers that are a federally endangered species. A translocation program was implemented in 1989 that relocates species to and from Florida forests to habitats that are best suited for endangered species. The Apalachicola Forest maitains the RCW population through prescribed fire as these fires keep hardwoods to a minimum and the ground herbaceous so these species can flourish.
Red-Cockaded Woodpecker photograph by Michael Keys.