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South Florida Wildlife Center Could Be Forced To Relocate After $200-A-Year Lease Expires Next Year

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - "I felt heartbroken, actually, when I heard news about it," said Susan Loman who's been volunteering at the South Florida Wildlife Center for nearly 20 years.

She's also a donor. Now she's worried about the center's future.

"I think that it can be a devastating event for the community that we may not have the center to bring these animals anymore."

Nicole Paquette is with the Humane Society of the United States, it's affiliated with the wildlife center.

"We've been told that we have to relocate off our current property and that in order for us to continue operations we would be moving to a new location and starting to build over," she said.

The Center's $200 dollar-a-year lease expires next September.

Broward County owns the land and does not want to sign a new long term lease, where the center was looking at plans to build a new facility.

The property is close to the airport, where passenger traffic has more than doubled over the last 20 years.

"Basically if there's a long term lease it shuts the airport out of any potential to do any kind of onsite activity there," said Broward Aviation Department spokesman Greg Meyer.

"We would be locked out of there and it really, at this time, doesn't make a lot of sense for that to happen," he said.

The county offered land next to Animal Care for a 200 dollar a year lease and to pay relocation costs, as well as, some modifications to the new property — giving the center the chance to build a new facility.

The Humane Society of the United States said it's too expensive. "If there is an option somebody to come in and take over and build a new center, then absolutely we would welcome that," Paquette said.

The South Florida Wildlife Center rescues and rehabilitates more than 12,000 wild animals a year.

The Humane Society of the United States figures if they can find another group to take the reigns, they can spend their available money promoting their mission.

"It will allow us to really look at the bigger global fight facing animals everywhere and so that's really at the core of our mission," Paquette said.

The center's lease is up at the end of September 2020.

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