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Animals to descend on the James Museum Saturday

Bill DeYoung



Rufus, a 10-year-old red morph screech owl, is an ambassador for the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Indian Shores. Photo provided.

The James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art puts the emphasis on that second “W” with a special event Saturday. For the family-friendly Menagerie at the Museum, the James’ Mesa Room will be crawling with mostly-indigenous Florida animals.

Crawling, hopping, walking, slithering, flying, swimming, all the things Florida creatures do, and all safely chaperoned by representatives of area rescue, rehab and other professional animal-related organizations. It’s an educational encounter; many group representatives will discuss the work they do.

These include the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, the Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center, Florida Skunk Rescue, Friends of Boyd Hill Preserve, SPCA Tampa Bay, Honey’s Mini Therapy Adventures, the Humane Society of Pinellas County and the St. Petersburg Police Department Mounted Unit.

Present and accounted for will be owls, hawks, eagles, alligators, snakes, rabbits, skunks, seabirds and even a miniature horse. Among others.

Admission is $5, which includes full access to the museum and its many exhibits.

Menagerie at the Museum is tied in with Unnatural Selections: Wildlife in Contemporary Art, which runs through Sept. 17. The Art Bridges grant that funded the exhibit included a clause stating it must be accompanied by a community event.

There will be face painting, balloon-twisting and other activities for little ones.

Sonny Flynn, owner of the Alligator and Wildlife Discovery Center, a rescue facility on Madeira Beach, will bring Trinket, her white-ruffed lemur (one of the few non-indigenous animals) from 11 to noon. Photo provided.

Sonny Flynn, director of the Alligator and Wildlife Discovery Center, will bring a small alligator, a kingsnake and a bearded dragon.

Wicket, Flynn’s white ruffed lemur, will join his owner – and the menagerie – for the event’s first hour. Afterwards, she’ll take him home (the other Alligator & Wildlife Center animals will stick around for the duration).

Flynn is still reeling from the July 13 late-night fire that killed dozens of animals at her facility on John’s Pass.

The center’s recovery and restoration, Flynn explains, is proceeding “slowly. They still haven’t determined final cause and origins, so it’s still under investigation.”

The Madeira Beach facility is divided into several upstairs storefronts, or “units.”

“We’re hoping, when all’s said and done, that four of the individual units can be up and running by Thanksgiving,” Flynn continued. “The City is being generous and allowing us to permit it by unit, because they’re individually metered.

“A lot of it depends not on insurance, but the landlord. How fast he wants to move on stuff. Because if he doesn’t sign anything, I can’t work in there.”

Menagerie at the Museum runs from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 19. The James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art is located at 150 Central Ave., St. Petersburg.

Tickets are available in advance here, and will be sold at the door.





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