While the manatees are certainly fascinating, the park also contains many other animals, including birds of prey, flamingos, pelicans, alligators, foxes, bears and otters. Besides the confined animals, almost all of which cannot survive in the wild anymore because of injuries or human acclimation, the park teems with wild birds that are attracted to the ideal environment. Ducks, ibis, herons, and egrets roost in the trees and feed in the shallow waters of the numerous streams. Although the park is not large, there is so much to see and watch that any visit is an all-day affair. This was certainly the case during my last trip. We got there in the morning when they opened and stayed until late afternoon, walking through the entire zoo at least twice.
Just before we left for the day, on our second time through the area that houses most of the mammals and birds in large, naturally landscaped enclosures, we noticed a bit of excitement near the pen hosting a pair of cougars. Moments before we happened by, one of the cougars had caught a great blue heron that was careless enough to be wandering about in an area with two big cats. The giant feline had leapt upon the large heron, much like a housecat with a songbird, and was in the process of leisurely plucking its prize. We watched for at least 15 minutes while the predator calmly removed feathers and readied its victim for consumption. As the animals in the park are well-fed, there was no urgency about its actions, and the other cat did not challenge the proprietorship of the snack. Eventually, the cougar carried the scrawny heron carcass to a far corner of its enclosure and out of view of the rapt audience, all of whom had been treated to a small natural drama they would probably never see in the wild.