National Key Deer Refuge
National Key Deer Refuge © Marc Averette
The endangered, attractive and tiny white-tailed Key deer have found a safe haven in their refuge at Big Pine Key, where they can roam in 14 square miles (36 sq km) of their natural tropical hardwood hammock habitat, which is threatened just like them. There were only 27 or so Key deer surviving in 1957 when the refuge was established; this number has now grown to about 800. The refuge is also home to 22 other federally listed endangered and threatened species of plants and animals, five of which are found nowhere else in the world. More than 90,000 visitors come to the refuge each year and the beautiful natural landscapes are as rewarding as the rare animals.