Kris Porter, founder of Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife

by | Jun 16, 2021

Kris Porter–founder of Owl’s Nest Sanctuary for Wildlife, an Odessa, FL-based rescue and rehabilitation organization that tends to sick, injured, or orphaned wild birds, wild mammals, reptiles, and more, across some 11 Florida counties—describes how caring for animals is a running theme of her life, dating back to being 8 years old, even though her Mom wasn’t at all pro-animal. This passion led her to the University of Florida, Porter recalls, where she studied marine mammals, reflecting her love for whales and dolphins; this culminated in a job interview with SeaWorld in San Diego that she ultimately turned down, which in retrospect, Porter allows, represented a turning point for her professionally and personally. Instead, she went to work as a zoologist at Busch Gardens, a combination zoo and amusement park in Tampa. It was an 11-year stint at Busch, in which she looked after a wide array of animals, often working in the nursery, caring for various infants, including bottle-feeding baby giraffes. When it came time to start a family, she experienced a difficult pregnancy—including being kicked in the stomach by a baby giraffe—which brought about the end of career at Busch, a shift to an exclusively domestic phase, raising two daughters, who are now 20 and 17. A call from a zookeeper friend at Busch, Porter recounts, led to some minor steps toward wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, starting with baby squirrels and bunnies. It’s escalated considerably from there, with Porter launching Owl’s Nest Sanctuary For Wildlife about six years ago. Owl’s Nest is an all-volunteer run operation, and Porter figures there are now 300-plus volunteers. (They welcome new volunteers; their Facebook page has details.) It’s clearly a busy operation—Porter says she fields 200 calls a day, about Florida wildlife of one kind or another that’s injured or ill, and they respond as rapidly as they can, given that everyone is a volunteer and is often contending with other professional or personal commitments. (,,


ALSO: I also spoke briefly with Lynne Simone, an artist who was slated to teach a “Paint Your Pet” class that Saturday afternoon at Painting With A Twist. Simone describes what happens before and during the class—the key pre-step being emailing a photo of the pet, which the instructor uses to prepare a sketch to help guide the student with the painting. She notes that most students paint dogs versus cats, and occasionally there are more exotic pets. When asked if some students repeat the class in order to paint additional pets, Simone recounts that there was a veterinarian who enrolled in multiple classes, painting all her pets, before moving onto animals that were her clients.  (,,

COMEDY CORNER:  Matt Braunger’s “Owls” (

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: We didn’t play “Name That Animal Tune” today.


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