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North Florida Wildlife Center, an up-close experience with animals from around the world

Ryan Reines with a joey at North Florida Wildlife Center
Posted at 4:28 AM, May 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-30 08:50:58-04

LAMONT, Fla. (WTXL) — Preparing for the day, Ryan Reines is feeding the animals on his 10-acre property.

He's the founder of the North Florida Wildlife Center.

At 21 years old, he graduated from Florida State University with an environmental science and biology degree, which led to him opening the facility.

"I really thought it was crazy starting this out by myself," Reines said. "I'm just a huge animal person."

Reines said his love for animals started at a young age.

"My grandpa and I as a kid we'd catch snails and little anoles in Miami and my dad got me really into dinosaurs as a kid and I think it just evolved, no pun intended, into living animals that we can work with," Reines said.

He said his interest in dinosaurs eventually evolved into a fascination with different bird species.

"We have a lot of birds here on property that visitors say, 'oh, wow that reminds me so much of a dinosaur', but they are dinosaurs. Birds are the only surviving dinosaurs," Reines said.

Educating the public is important to Reines, which is why his facility has so many unique animals.

From the lemurs to the joey and black-tailed wallaby, Reines said he wants people to get back in touch with nature during their visit.

"We really try to inspire, especially kids right because they're the future of the planet, to care for nature and we do that through these up close interactions that they're able to have," Reines said. "It's not about me. It's not about any of the other team members. This is about the community really learning about and caring for wildlife for the sake of conservation."

And that makes this zoological facility, a wildlife adventure, that is totally Tallahassee.

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