Besides beautiful water, great fishing and cold drinks, the Keys are famous for their resident, celebrity animals. There are numerous educational facilities that harbor animals, many of whom are injured in some way or another and can’t be released to the wild. From owls to Tursi, the dolphin, whose parents starred in the original “Flipper,” these animals have a serious following. Often, visitors check in on them year after year. Of course, locals are fortunate enough to pal around with these guys as part of their job, or see them on a regular basis. 


Key West Butterfly & Nature Conservatory

“I’m a Button Quail.”

My current mood: A bit peckish, now that you mention it. What’s a bird gotta do to get a mealworm around here?

My Disney princess persona: Snow White — she likes tiny fellas.

My weekends: I roll around in the sand, then chase the lady birds.

My celebrity crush: Woodstock

My astrological sign: What’s that?

Favorite food: Mealworms. Why, you got some? Don’t mind if I do.

Favorite movie: “Fly Away Home.” It’s an aspirational film. We’re not so much with the flying — no tail feathers.

My greatest strength: I’m freakin’ adorable.

My greatest weakness: Hello? Mealworms. Are we gonna keep talking about them, or are we gonna have a snack?

My biggest fan: Arthur at the admission desk. (He wants to put me in his pocket and take me home.)

Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters, Marathon

“I am a 400-pound Goliath Grouper.”

My current mood: Relaxed

My Disney princess persona: Moana

My weekends: Lounging in the lagoon

My celebrity crush: Dori

My astrological sign: Pisces

Favorite food: Herring

Favorite movie: Jaws

My greatest strength: Patience

My greatest weakness: Also, herring

My biggest fan: Everyone who watches my daily feedings at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.!


KAITLIN PRINCE/Dolphin Research Center

Dolphin Research Center, Grassy Key

“I am a 47-year-old, happy dolphin.”

My current mood: Fabulous

My Disney princess persona: Queen Elinor (mother of Merida in “Brave”)

My weekends: Hanging with guests, teaching our trainers, and joyfully screaming at the height of my jumps. 

My celebrity crush: Arnold Schwarzenegger

My astrological sign: Sagittarius

Favorite food: Herring and silversides

Favorite movie: Flipper 

My greatest strength: My “can do, as long as it’s my way” dolphinality.

My greatest weakness: I’m considered, ahem, a “senior” dolphin and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I am thankful to every volunteer or staff member who comes out and helps shade me with umbrellas.

My biggest fan: Kids and the other baby dolphins, like Jax, that I’ve adopted.

Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder, Key Largo

“I am Queen of my lagoon.”

My current mood: Namaste

My Disney princess persona: Jasmine

My weekends: Snuggling with my calf, Tug

My celebrity crush: Sean Connery

My astrological sign: Leo

Favorite food: Sushi

Favorite movie: Princess Bride

My greatest strength: Teaching all of the new trainers how to be a trainer

My greatest weakness: Being partially blind 

My biggest fan: My primary trainer, Kayla

Florida Keys Wild Bird Center, Tavernier

“I am an owl, living my best life.”

My current mood: Zen, I am one with the perch

My Disney princess persona: Sleeping Beauty

My weekends: Sunbathing, dancing, and taking long naps

My celebrity crush: Mr. Owl (the iconic Tootsie Pop celebrity)

My astrological sign: Aquarius

Favorite food: Large rats

Favorite movie: Casper the Friendly Ghost.

My greatest strength: My dancing skills

My greatest weakness: I am missing part of my wing, so I can’t fly.

My biggest fan: The Wild Bird Center interns; they spoil me rotten.

The Turtle Hospital

“I am an ambassador for marine turtles.”

My current mood: Floaty

My Disney princess persona: Kida (“Atlantis”)

My weekends: chillaxing in the pool with my buds

My celebrity crush: J-Lo

My astrological sign: Cancer

Favorite food: Green peppers

Favorite movie: Finding Nemo

My greatest weakness: My cracked shell and lingering spinal cord damage from a horrible boat strike

My biggest fan: Richie Moretti