Animals abound in our parks! As a steward of natural habitats, the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department strives to maintain the environments of a variety of animals that live in and frequent our parks and nature centers. Conserving these habitats makes visitors more aware of the ecosystem in Palm Beach County, and children and families get a fun, educational experience that generates interest in contributing to conservation efforts. See where you can see all sorts of animals in our parks and facilities.
County nature centers:
- Okeeheelee Nature Center: Parents and children can see and interact with animals inside this facility at Okeeheelee Park west of West Palm Beach and spot them outside. The nature center offers programs, such as deer and raptor walks where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at their compounds, and free guided nature walks through the pine flatwoods forest to learn about the plants and animals living there. Reptiles, raptors and deer are just a few of the animals to learn about while visiting the exhibits. Talk with our passionate naturalists.
- Daggerwing Nature Center: Explore the grounds of Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park, west of Boca Raton, to spot the Daggerwing butterfly, the namesake of the center. Also look for turtles, birds, snakes and more in and around the facility. Inside, visit the exhibit hall to see reptiles and more, a bee theater, leaf rubbings and a nature video. Outside, gaze at the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs’ certified butterfly garden with a variety of the beautiful winged creatures. A 40-acre nature preserve surrounds the facility, plus a 0.6-mile boardwalk and observation tower, with views of birds, turtles and insects.
- Green Cay Nature Center: Located in Boynton Beach, this is similar to Daggerwing and Okeeheelee Nature centers. In addition to the animals you can see and interact with at exhibits and special programs, the mile-long Chickee Hut Trail and 0.6-mile Tropical Hammock Trail allows visitors to spot all sorts of wildlife in marsh, ponds, forested wetlands and tree islands. Waterfowl, diving birds, moorhens, sparrows and more thrive in these environments, and bobcats have been found hiding in the shrubbery. Check out the center’s bird checklist on pbcParks.com, and you’ll find there are dozens of birds to be discovered there.
• Riverbend Park: A plethora of animal species will always accompany this massive 665-acre park in Jupiter. Walk, bike or jog on the many trails where your family can spot deer, rabbits, turkeys, other birds, insects and reptiles. Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park is adjacent, where you’ll see much of the same wildlife. If you kayak at Riverbend Park, you’ll most likely spot some interesting fish, turtles and other water wildlife.
• Regional parks: Parks such as John Prince Park in Lake Worth, Okeeheelee Park west of West Palm Beach and Burt Aaronson South County Regional Park west of Boca Raton provide perfect opportunities to see squirrels, lizards and birds, which can be spotted from safe distances. Walk on paved trails at each of these parks and find all sorts of beautiful and interesting creatures.
Visit pbcParks.com to learn how to spot more animals in our parks and nature centers.
Bibi Baksh is a public relations specialist for the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department.