PORT ARANSAS, Texas — The Amos Rehabilitation Keep has started offering guided tours of the facility to the public for the first time since they opened about 40 years ago.
The ARK was founded by Tony Amos and he always had the vision to open the facility to the public to teach them about the animals.
Alicia Walker, ARK program coordinator, said there was something standing in the way.
“There was one kind of hiccup… and that was we needed to find a way to be able to separate our rehab animals from our educational animals that are unreleasable,” she says.
With some new expansions, the ARK has made Tony’s dream a reality and separated the two groups.
If the rehab animals become too used to humans it can be dangerous to release them back to the wild. It's why public visitors have not been allowed in the past.
The ARK found a way to separate the unreleasable animals and use them as a way to educate visitors.
“I really feel like seeing something in person, especially for the kids, makes a difference so that they would go out and say ‘yeah, I want to save this… I want to make a difference in the world,’” said Dr. Shayna Whitaker, a veterinarian at the keep.
The tour features sea birds, sea turtles and raptors that have all been rescued for a variety of reasons. Many of the permanent residents were struck by boats and cars, or got caught up in discarded fishing nets.
The ARK program coordinator says their goal for the unreleasable animals is to keep them entertained and give them a good life. Now they get to help educate others as well.
“So through education, we’re really hopeful that we will reach the public and hope to rescue maybe one less animal by helping folks to learn about better choices that they can make to help the wildlife in our area,” says Walker.
If you are looking to hear and witness these animals' stories yourself, the tours are available at 10 a.m. Wednesdays and Fridays and cost $7 per person.
Children under 3 years old can see the tour for free.