WILDLIFE TOUR: Take a tour — on foot or in a tour vehicle — of Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation from 10 a.m. to noon Jan. 8. Witness big-cat feeding demonstrations and get close to the animals while being guided by professional zoologists. In place of walking, ride and drive along the tour path with the conservation’s wildlife-themed tour vehicles. The vehicles are suitable for seniors, adults aged 12 and older with a younger passenger 11 or younger, groups of students, friends and couples. There is limited availability for each tour. Extra fun can be booked upon arrival, including rhino feedings and a meet-and-greet with baby hyenas, lemurs and baby exotic cats. The foundation is located at 8528 E.County Road 225. Entrance for the walking tours are $25 for adults, $10 for ages 2-11 and free for ages 1 and younger. Motorized-vehicle tours are $45. For more information, or to book a tour, visit carsonspringswildlife.org, call 468-2827 or email [email protected]
CRUISE IN: The Gainesville Street Rods will hold its monthly cruz-in beginning at 6 p.m. Jan. 8 at Springhill Publix, on the corner of Northwest 39th Avenue and Interstate 75. The event, which is free to the public, will host a variety of cars, trucks, motorcycles and specialty vehicles. For more information, visit gainevillestreetrods.com.
JAN. 8 AND JAN. 9
ROOTERVILLE ANIMAL SANCTUARY SELF-GUIDED TOURS: According to its website, the majestic Rooterville Sanctuary is home to hundreds of rescued farm animals, each of whom came from harrowing backgrounds — narrowly escaping the torment of slaughter that is so common to many farm animals today. Their stories are stories of abuse, neglect, abandonment, cruelty — and then a second chance. Visit the sanctuary for a self-guided tour from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays throughout the year. Take a map of the sanctuary at the gate to see highlights of Rooterville to help you find your way. Guided tours also are available at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. According to its website, Rooterville Animal Sanctuary was inspired by farm animals in need and founded on a singular principle: Compassion. Its owners believe true happiness, a better world and recognition of religious ideals require compassion and mercy for animals. Rooterville Animal Sanctuary is located at 5579 Darwood St. in Melrose. Entrance is a suggested $10 donation per person or $30 for a family of four. For more information, visit rooterville.org.
ONGOING THROUGH JAN. 31
READING CHALLENGE: The Winter Reading Challenge returns with a new goal for the community — to read 600,000 minutes through Jan. 31. Register now for the 2022 Winter Reading Challenge: Read for a Better World for chances to win prizes and help the library district compete against libraries across the country. Participants can sign up for the challenge now at aclib.beanstack.org or using the Beanstack app. Log your time spent reading and activities completed in Beanstack to earn badges. Each badge earned is another entry in the prize drawing, and each minute logged helps the library district advance in the competition. All participants will have unlimited access to Lerner’s “Read for a Better World” themed eBooks for the duration of the challenge through the “Read for a Better World” activity badge. During the challenge, hundreds of libraries across the nation encourage their communities to read a target number of minutes or books and encourage readers of all ages to explore diversity, empathy and action through literature. Top-performing libraries will earn prizes from Lerner Publishing Group, including book collections, signed books and virtual author visits. In February, the library district was one of six public libraries nationwide to win the Winter Reading Challenge and received a virtual author visit and collection of books. For more information, visit aclib.us/winter.
ONGOING THROUGH MAY 25
BIRD WALKS: Discover the rich diversity of birds at one of north central Florida’s premier birding hotspots during a two- to three-hour guided walking tour at Sweetwater Wetlands Park, 325 SW Williston Road. Walks are free with the park admission fee of $5 per vehicle and are offered every Wednesday morning at 8:30 a.m. through May 25. Expect a wide variety of birds, from wetland species like purple gallinule and limpkin to forest and grassland birds in the cypress domes and open prairie within the park’s diverse habitats. Rare birds are often recorded at this location, especially during the fall, winter and spring months. Fall bird migration will be in full swing in September and October, bringing unusual visitors through the area. Birders of all levels are welcome. Participants will meet at the entrance pavilion/restroom area next to the parking lot at 8:30 a.m. Bird walks are led by volunteers from Alachua Audubon Society with assistance from Sweetwater Wetlands Park rangers. Coordinators suggest that participants bring hats, water, sunscreen, binoculars and walking shoes. For more information, visit alachuaaudubon.org.