It has been almost a month since my last blog post! Lets just say things have gone haywire. I am sure all of your lives have too. It was holiday time for crying out loud. Instead of boring you with the ins and outs of the last month and my conservation random thoughts over that time I will limit myself to three items. I have challenged myself to only list three highlights from the last month. May I mention how incredibly hard that is for myself. On an hour basis my brain runs through a little over 1000 thoughts, multiply that by one month and now three seems like an incredible mystifying feat! And even more phenomenal I will limit myself to a few pictures from the last month… GULP! In traditional countdown form here we gooo:
3. Turpentine Creek. In December, while I was in Arkansas, I was set up with a special tour (Thanks Carrie) of Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge that takes in mostly big cats from around the country. I lived in Arkansas for about three years and for about two of those years drove by Turpentine Creek on an almost daily basis en route to my job. I never stopped. I never went. I was scared. I have stopped at many “wildlife refuges” in the past that ended up to be more of a horrid roadside attraction in which I left in tears. After a few of those experiences I am quite picky about the places I go to. Although, I know they are not all bad. I worked as a keeper at a place in North Carolina that housed some animals that were confiscated pets and the habitats were natural, extensive and beautiful. Probably the best habitats I have ever seen. I just did not want to run into another bad one again and feel as if there was nothing I could do.
I went. All of the animals have their individual story but the overall theme is the same. Some dumbass (it’s my blog I can swear!) decides an exotic animal would be super cool in their house… and then the animal grows up and has to eat and be taken care of. One lion was bought for a measly 150 bucks. Turpentine takes in as many animals as it can house. The director made a statement at one point: as soon as the habitats for these animals are built the current exhibits they are in now will be destroyed so that we physically can not accept more to fill the old exhibits. The problem is, if they have room they can’t turn the cats down. There are few sanctuaries that have the facilities to take in large cats and other exotic animals. There are too many exotic animals that need a home. Yet, you can buy all kinds of exotics online and some states have no laws against owning them! Here is a summary of state laws regarding exotic animal ownership by private owners. How does your state rack up?
|In some habitats mountain lions rotate days out in the big habitats.|
Turpentine does have many old exhibits but they are working on building more natural habitats. They have received many donations to build new habitats and have the space to do so. It just takes time and they still need more donations. They are starting to move towards a capital campaign where they will be able to collect the kind of money they need to make things happen and give the animals the habitats and space they need. I will check back in often to see how they are doing. But for now, check out their website. If you live near Eureka, go visit and donate some cash. I am pretty sure that locals get in free!
What Turpentine really needs is more laws regulating the ownership of exotic animals. Remember the ridiculous situation in Ohio recently, which is one of the most lax states when it comes to exotic animal laws. Click here to sign a petition to ban the sale, ownership and harboring of exotic animals in Ohio.
2. Work Work Work. Here is a quick update at the zoo: It snowed over an inch and melted within a day. The animals were all fine and probably enjoyed some snow.
Career Days – probably around 600 kids coming for career days at the zoo which is a day full of educational animal programs, career day presentation, scavenger hunt, animal encounter, conservation and of course fun! For all of you that know me, I am a mammalogist, lots of experience wrangling bats, raccoons, gray foxes, mountain lions, black bears, ringtails… but not too fond of snakes. I blame my two older brothers for tormenting me when I was young. But I am becoming much more comfortable and here is the prooooof: Local newscast about the career day with miss snake and me.
A Biodiversity of the Chihuahuan Desert Teacher Workshop. Interactive activities, lesson plans, behind the scenes, and more to inspire teachers to engage their students with what is right outside their front doors!
Year of the Bat Kickoff Celebration – an event to bring awareness to the plight of bats, rid them of their negative reputations and educate people about local bats. So much bat fun!
1. Arkansas. Yes, I visited Arkansas for Christmas. I love the trees but do not miss the bitter humid cold winter weather. Although I hear that yesterday was 60 degrees!
|This mailbox perfectly describes the town of Eureka Springs in Arkansas.|
We spent the Xmas hanging out with family and friends. Some of the kids got the all time BB gun for Xmas and everyone had a blast taking their turn hitting some cans. I miss David’s family and I miss my friends from Arkansas. I am extremely thankful for all of their kindness and hospitality and love that they are all in my life. But… I will be back when its warm. 🙂
|BB gun Christmas.|
|A walk down the road in Eureka.|
I also got a chance to meet up with several friends from my old job. I worked at the Ozark Natural Science Center (ONSC) for about three years. It is a residential environmental education facility. Kids embark on an overnight adventure to explore the great outdoors while being led by a highly knowledgeable, inspired and motivated Teacher Naturalist. What I miss most about ONSC is the people and the campfires. The people kept me thirsty for a quest for knowledge by always finding new plants and animals to discover while the campfires kept me sane and warm. On this past trip, they gave me a scrapbook of my times at ONSC and I flipping LOVE it.
|Liz (ONSC co-worker) and Zac’s cute baby girl… or lamb?|
Honorable Mention. A future number 1:
Zoo Story. Life in the Garden of Captives. By: Thomas French
I read the book in five days. I had never heard of the book before it was in my mailbox thanks to my Aunt Mary! The book takes you inside a zoo and inside the animals and keepers thoughts. The author eloquently writes about the positive and negative of zoos and compares zoos to the wild and vice versa. The book gets you thinking as it describes the rise and fall of the Lowry Park Zoo in Florida. The author never takes a side although at times you think you know where his beliefs lie. I loved the book for the story itself but also for the journalism. I related to several stories throughout and reminded me of several zoos, coworkers and animals. Even if you are not in the field it is still an important read as zoos are part of communities around the country and world.
Although this deserves to be my number one, I am not ready to tackle my entire thoughts and opinion about zoos and the wild in this blog. I will give you a chance to read the book first.
|Silly giraffe picture I snapped during a Behind the Scenes Tour. Characters.|
A busy busy past month and even more busy days ahead.
“Recognize the challenge and do something about it!”