Seaside Seabird Sanctuary welcomed the community to its facility on Thursday, March 30 for their grand opening celebration. More than 150 people came out to the Sanctuary to see all the improvements, hear about the future of the nonprofit organization and to support the mission to care for the birds and the environment.
Elected officials, business partners, local supporters and out of town visitors joined management, staff and volunteers for the celebration. The Sanctuary also welcomed members from environmental and wildlife conservations groups that they work closely with including Tampa Bay Raptor Rescue, Blue Turtle Green Bird Society and the Audubon Society. The event featured a meet-and-greet with the Sanctuary’s avian ambassadors, daily hand feeding of the Pelicans and a ribbon cutting with the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce.
“We are very grateful that everyone came out to support the Sanctuary,” said Andrew von Gontard, president of Seaside Seabird Sanctuary. “It was great to see so many people excited about our renewed mission to save our seabirds. While we provide care for injured birds, we also work to educate about the importance of being good stewards of the environment.”
Seaside Seabird Sanctuary receives about 2,000 birds into the Sanctuary annually. Common injuries include fishhook and line entanglement, environmental pollution and collisions with automobiles, boats, buildings and telephone wire.
“We receive calls daily about sick or injured birds and we accept all types of birds into our facility. Some we go out to rescue, others are brought to us or sometimes it is a matter of educating people on how they can help,” said Eddie Gayton, operations manager at Seaside Seabird Sanctuary. “Since Seaside took over last September, we have been making improvements. We have new netting on the pens of our permanent avian residents, which keep the wildlife out and cut down on food costs. But, there is still much more work to be done.”
Seaside relies 100 percent on charitable contributions to maintain operations. There are numerous items they need including an x-ray machine to better serve the birds, a utility van to aid in the rescue of injured birds and the release of rehabilitated birds, and updated pool systems for the more than 100 permanent avian residents.
Donations can be made by mail, online or in person at the Sanctuary located at 18328 Gulf Blvd., Indian Shores, FL 33785. For information about leaving Seaside in your estate, please contact Brian Tharp at [email protected] or call 727-392-4291. All donations to the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary are tax deductible.
“We couldn’t do what we do without the support of the community, our many volunteers and of course, our outstanding staff,” said von Gontard. “We are excited to be able to continue this mission for the next generation.”
About Seaside Seabird Sanctuary
Seaside Seabird Sanctuary took over operations of the facility in September of 2016. It was originally created in 1971 and has been considered one of the premier avian rehabilitation centers in the nation. The Sanctuary has rescued and rehabilitated thousands of birds, ranging from the Eastern Brown Pelican to the Eastern Screech Owl. It was the first facility to breed Eastern Brown Pelicans in captivity. The Sanctuary is open to the public 365 days a year. Admission is free, but visitors are encouraged to donate to support the ongoing mission. More information can be found at www.seabirdsanctuary.com.
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