Orianne Center for
The Orianne Center for Indigo Conservation (OCIC), located on 25 acres in central Florida, is The Orianne Society's breeding center for our flagship species, the Eastern Indigo Snake (Drymarchon couperi). This facility is specifically designed and built for the maintenance, propagation, and conservation of imperiled snake species in need of captive management. By applying industry best practices in animal husbandry, cutting edge veterinary medicine, and innovative techniques for breeding and propagation, the OCIC will make significant inroads in support of field conservation initiatives such as the production of Eastern Indigo Snakes for The Orianne Society's reintroduction projects.
The facilities of the OCIC are currently comprised of our Health Care Center, Herpetarium, Outdoor Snake Enclosures, Administrative Office, and support facilities. The buildings have been constructed in tandem with the existing features of the habitat to produce a footprint which is integrated into the natural landscape. The OCIC property is located within a network of hydrologically connected wetlands with natural drainage to Sulphur Run, Blackwater Creek, and the Wekiva River. This strategic property is bordered to the north by Seminole State Forest, and provides connectivity between the Wekiva River Protection Area and Ocala National Forest. Our vision of creating a center for our flagship species, the Eastern Indigo Snake, while secondarily contributing to a vital regional wildlife corridor for the Florida Black Bear, supports the wider conservation mission of The Orianne Society.
Health Care Center
The OCIC Health Care Center provides space for both clinical veterinary work and quarantine rooms for incoming specimens. Primary design elements support our preventative health care program provided by the University of Florida, College of Veterinary Medicine, Zoological Medicine Service. This acclaimed service, with a celebrated history of contributions to the field of reptile medicine, conducts regularly scheduled site visits to the OCIC. Rounds are conducted by the Zoological Medicine Service Chief, a postdoctoral resident in Zoological Medicine, and veterinary students in their wildlife rotation. During rounds, active cases are seen first followed by screenings and blood work to build our veterinary database for snakes. In addition to onsite work at the Health Care Center, cases can also be transported to the UF Small Animal Hospital, Gainesville, Florida, which offers the latest in advanced diagnostic and treatment regimens. Together the UF Veterinary Program and the OCIC Health Care Center provides our snakes with the highest standards of health care available.
The OCIC Herpetarium is a 2,500 square foot indoor reptile facility, comprised of two primary animal sections, each under separate environment control. Here, snakes that have successfully passed the four month quarantine period in the Health Care Center are maintained in separate enclosures for growing and breeding. This area is really the "nuts and bolts" of our animal facilities, where husbandry and ongoing behavior and health assessments help assure that every individual snake in the colony is thriving. Assessments are made on each individual snake, and plans are developed to designate future breeding plans. In this context, not only do we develop management plans for the OCIC Indigo colony, but The Orianne Society also maintains the Eastern Indigo Snake Studbook and produces the Population Management Plan for the Eastern Indigo Snake Species Survival Plan for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). For the Eastern Indigo Snake, this means producing indigos for repatriation programs and for zoo conservation education programs.
The Herpetarium also houses select venomous snake species that are part of The Orianne Society's Viper Initiative. Currently the venomous collection has a focus on pit vipers (primarily rattlesnakes) of conservation concern. Strict handling and husbandry procedures combined with emergency snakebite protocols assure a safe and professional venue required when working with these potentially dangerous, yet fragile species. All our snake programs combine to promote public education, with outreach programs targeting local groups to advance the appreciation and tolerance of snakes in our native landscapes.
Outdoor enclosures for Eastern Indigo Snakes are the hallmark of the OCIC. This novel approach offers exposure to all the natural elements that often cannot be simulated adequately inside a traditional reptile building. The natural daily and seasonal cycles of temperature and precipitation will be vital in the long term reproductive cycling of the colony. The opportunity to bask in the sun (ideal for daily thermoregulation and calcium metabolism), exposure to natural photoperiods, cool winter temperatures, and the elements (rain, wind) maintains our snakes in their normal physiological rhythms. In addition, a variety of behavioral enrichment essentials creates a stimulating environment to increase exercise and promote both psychological and physical fitness. These techniques will also increase the fitness of snakes scheduled for release by helping them develop hunting skills and enhancing their problem-solving aptitude.
The first outdoor enclosure at the OCIC has been completed. This enclosure is divided into 12 units, to maintain 12 snakes individually. This group of indigos represents our primary breeders for future reproduction. Fund-raising for the next two enclosures (16 units each) is currently underway.