First look at plans for new Peace River Wildlife Education Center

Published: July 14, 2021 6:10 PM EDT

We’re getting a first look at plans for the Peace River Wildlife Education Center, which is expected to bring in visitors from all over.

The new center will be next to the Hounds on Henry Dog Park on Henry Avenue, just west of downtown Punta Gorda. Among its attractions will be an amphitheater and a butterfly garden.

The current education center is at Ponce de Leon Park, where it has been since the ’80s. The nonprofit outgrew that site, and part of the land is still owned by the developer.

Peace River Wildlife Center plans to start phase one soon on the three acres the city agreed to lease to them for at least the next 50 years.

They hoped to finish building the center by 2023, then the pandemic hit and the center was closed for six months.

Punta Gorda City Council agreed to give PRWC another year to finish construction by 2024.

“Our number one goal in our mission is to rescue and rehabilitate wildlife. The only way that we can fund that is by having our education facility. So we’re not a zoo, we’re not collecting animals. We’re trying to educate the public about this amazing wildlife we have locally,” said Callie Stahl, executive director of the wildlife center.

The nonprofit has already collected more than $1.5 million in donations to fund the construction. It will have a better idea of the price tag once design plans are finished. This project is just for the education center. They’re still looking for a permanent site for their rehab center.