Volume 2 Issue 4 | April 2022
As a Home Watch provider, we want each of your return trips to Sarasota to feel as refreshing as the first. Our "Piece of Paradise" newsletters provide a brief glimpse into Florida homeownership, followed by a featured activity for your next visit.
Homeowner Insight

Non-southerners are very familiar with the raking and collection of leaves that drop from trees in the late autumn. In Florida? Surprise! Southern Live Oaks drop their leaves (and pollen - lots of pollen) in the spring. This can be hugely important for homeowners who have rooflines that form catches, such as where it connects to the lanai. Our home is the perfect example. Even after blowing off leaves and pollen multiple times during the month of March, we had to manually clear the built-up debris from our gutters. This first picture shows the cleaning about 2/3 through the L-shaped catch, and the four garbage bags full of moist vegetative matter that we removed. If that moist vegetative matter were to sit for an extended period of time, it could contribute to wood rot in the roof.
April Piece Of Paradise
Big Cat Habitat & Gulf Coast Sanctuary
Big Cat Habitat and Gulf Coast Sanctuary is a small-venue, large-animal rescue with a uniquely Sarasota circus twist. Kay Rosaire, who founded and remains very involved in the rescue, is an eighth generation animal trainer and known for her work within the entertainment industry. She started the rescue in 1987 to offer a permanent home for large and exotic animals. The rescue is dedicated to educating visitors and the community about animal care and education.
Admission to the attraction is $25 for adults and $10 for children. Upon entering the facility, visitors are exposed to a variety of animals from around the world - starting with an impressive collection of at least four types of bears.
Although the enclosures aren't as large as are afforded to animals in traditional zoos (note: visitors may feel some conflict about this), the size of the enclosures does provide for up-close views of the animals. Animal enthusiasts who prefer to see animals in a larger, more natural environment will likely prefer the 50-minute drive to Busch Gardens.
Big Cat Habitat is open limited hours - four hours a day, five days a week. Each day of operations includes two shoes, which help justify the price of the ticket and fill the four-hour visit. The first show features macaws who perform a variety of tricks. The ringmaster for this show is Kay's sister, Ellian Rosaire.
Ellian's script plays to the comedic tendencies of her circus family, while highlighting the personalities of her four birds.
Of course most people don't come to Big Cat Habitat for the birds. Children may be highly entertained by the petting zoo, but the venue's namesake offer the main attraction. In addition to some recently-welcomed lemurs and some choreographed antics from rescued dogs, the second show of the day features two of the "big cats."
Barry White the Bengal tiger and Mia the liger respond (or don't?) to Kay Rosaire's son in this act.
The timing of our visit went like this: bears, pass by the petting zoo, and birds from 12:15-1pm; show from 1-1:30pm; primates, miscellaneous animals and big cats 1:30 - 2pm; show from 2-3pm; catch any remaining animals (including a Florida panther) before leaving.
Ladies and gentlemen, the king of the jungle!
In addition to their enclosures and shows, Big Cat Habitat offers animal encounters, virtual field trips, and venue rentals.
Nearby Consideration
The "Visit Sarasota" water tower next to I-75 north of Fruitville Road, is visible from atop the Celery Fields.
It's possible to hear the big cats without ever visiting the habitat. On a clear morning at the Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility, the calls of the lion can occasionally drift to the top of the hill (the call of a lion can be heard from 5 miles away - but the Celery Fields is right next door). The Celery Fields are a huge attraction for two main groups: 1) birders and 2) walkers/runners looking for an incline.

The Celery Fields received their name because they were, indeed, the fields for Fancee Farms celery. When Sarasota County found itself facing frequent, serious flooding in residential neighborhoods, they took advantage of the defunct property. The fields were drained, dredged, and designed into a simple-but-complex series of stormwater treatment ponds. As stormwater moves from one pond to the next, it's naturally filtered before continuing on its journey to the bay.

The combination of nutrient-filtering plants and abundant water attracts a wide variety of bird life - and subsequently, avid birders. The paths that wind up to the top of the mound (made from dredged material) attract the walkers/runners. Though not all paths wind... there is an unofficial path that has been created by dedicated athletes, short cutters, and thrill seekers. On our last visit, bicyclists were careening down the hill on the path. Here's what it looks like going down that hill on foot.
For a milder experience, visitors can meander the gardens at the onsite Audubon Nature Center.
Learn more about our Home Watch services, Florida homeownership, and activity ideas in and around the Sarasota area on the Coastal Haven website.