Tucked underneath the Monroe County Detention Center on Stock Island is an unexpected treasure – The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm. Started in 1994 as a haven for homeless animals with some Muscovy Ducks & chickens, the farm quickly expanded.
Traditional farm animals inhabit the area as well as some more unusual characters. Peacocks, a llama, Patagonian cavies, alligators, African Spurred Tortoises and a kinkajou are some of the more unexpected sights. An Albino Python who achieved fame by being one of the captures of the “Python Patrol” and thus appearing in the local paper is also in residence. A pair of Two-Toed Sloths, who recently gave birth to a baby, shares the aviary with a wonderful assortment of tropical birds, including one beautiful pink Cockatoo who continually states, “I love you”.
Many of the animals who arrive at the Farm have been horribly abused. One iguana was painted blue & had his tail cut off. A pig was tossed out of a car on US1. Ghost, the blind horse, was left to starve by his owner in a remote area of Miami. After experiences like that, these animals deserve to be cared for and loved for the rest of their lives.
Deputy Jeanne Selander runs the farm and is also responsible for the maintenance of the grounds for the Detention Center and the nearby Sheriff’s Office Headquarters. She is the only salaried employee at the farm. She is assisted by inmates from the Detention Center. In caring for the animals and grounds, the inmates learn important skills. One of the most important skills, in this writer’s opinion, is how to love and care for the helpless.
The Farm is open to the public on the Second and Fourth Sunday of each month, from 1 pm to 3 pm. There is no charge to come into the farm, but since it is non-profit, donations are gratefully accepted. Field trips for groups of children can also be arranged. Call 305-293-7300 for more information.
(Thanks to Farmer Jeanne for allowing me access to the Farm so that I could have uninterrupted time to take the accompanying photos.)