Kids, animals, inmates and Easter eggs: It’s Easter in the Keys

Rehabbing convicts, kids, animals and an Easter egg hunt.

That combination can happen only in the Florida Keys and it did Sunday at the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Animal Farm during its annual Easter at the Farm party.

The event at the farm on College Road on Stock Island attracted more than 1,100 kids, parents and grandparents. The kids hunted for more than 9,000 plastic eggs hidden by the inmate workers.

The farm is a refuge for more than 150 domestic and exotic animals that were either abandoned, confiscated or donated. They are cared for by a contingent of the detention center’s inmate workers who are screened and classified as being safe to work outside the jail and interact with the public.

The animals include Mo the sloth; several African spurred tortoises; an albino Burmese python; an emu named Kramer; Wilbur the pig; Angus the cow; four alpacas; a family of Patagonian cavies; and an albino hedgehog. There are also tropical birds, ferrets, miniature horses, rabbits, goats and other species.

Ramsay said the real pleasure is to provide Keys children opportunities to see animals they have never seen before, especially during the Easter celebration.

The animal farm is managed by Sheriff’s Office staffer Jeanne Selander, who is paid from a fund financed in part to promote inmates’ welfare. There are also private donations but no public money is used and public admission to the farm, that opens for two hours the second and fourth Sundays of each month, is free.