Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

October 28, 2013

Winter’s World


 
All pictures taken at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Winter’s World.
 
This past week we were back in Tampa again for a Doctor’s appointment.
Friday morning there was a story on their local news alerting the area viewers that the movie so many have long-awaited, Dolphin Tale 2, would begin filming on Monday, and that public weekday visits would cease until the film wrapped in about three months.
Those of you who are following this Blog may have already read the two prior stories here about
Winter the Dolphin.
Her tragic, yet ultimately amazing story, has affected and inspired legions of followers and dedicated fans all over the world, so just before we turned to go North and head for home yesterday morning, we decided to make a slight detour and go to see the place where it all happened just a few short years ago at the Marine Aquarium in Clearwater.
Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted by many friendly employees whose only purpose seemed to be to make us feel most welcome to Winter’s World.
After parking and getting Breanna out, we started making our way around the huge area that was already filling up with eager visitors.
Even though the entire area is being transformed for the film, the constant din and hum of man and machines, does not deter any of those who came to see the Dolphin whose life story has shot like a comet around the planet.
The guests arriving for the day, included some physically challenged children and adults as well.
Winter’s story of overcoming unbelievable obstacles, has influenced others who face similar ones, to come and see her for themselves.
They seem to be compelled to see her in person, maybe just to be sure that she really does exist other than just in a movie.
When we asked about the cast and if the original one was kept, we were assured that they were and in fact, we were told that Harry had just been there yesterday and had already taken a swim.
After taking our pictures in various places and talking to the courteous staff about the film, we were told that we could find Winter mementoes to take home at their gift store downtown.
It was getting hot by then and of course Breanna could not go inside the Aquarium, so we left to go take a look.
Clearwater is such a beautiful town and it is doing its best to show off its local superstar with hundreds of banners on every light pole in town announcing the exciting event about to take place there.
The gift store in downtown did not disappoint, it was filled with countless memories of a day at Winters’ World, as well as a continuous running of the film and a tour guided mini-adventure inside the building.
The gift store is a “ must see “ for any truly devoted Winter fan.
So, can one Dolphin really make such a difference in so many lives?
Why not come on down to Clearwater and ask all of the people who still continue to come here to see Winter.
Those who make the pilgrimage here are drawn by the strength and courage of a creature they have never met, one who overcame a crippling injury against all odds, and has not only survived, but has thrived and ultimately inspired others to believe that if she can do it, so can they.
The
Clearwater Marine Aquarium  can use all of the financial help it can get and your visit to the Aquarium and purchases at the gift store help to support and maintain the wonderful work that they do for the many creatures that are cared for here.
Welcome to Winter’s World~

Pilots N Paws

mysantamoose
Our beautiful Breanna with her Christmas Moosie
 
A new era for this Blog is being introduced today.
As it is Sunday and peace and tranquility could be a possibility here, if only for a brief moment, from this point on, every Sunday,  if/when a new Blog is being posted,  it will be a good,  upbeat, positive story, period!
So, today begins this new  “good news only on Sunday era”  with a story that was on our local news this morning about a very “ special delivery ” being made near us today of animals who are being given a second chance at life.
The Organization behind all of this,  is  called  Pilots N Paws and who they are and what they do,  is why this Blog exists, they care deeply and work tirelessly and unselfishly for a single purpose,  they care for animals in need.
These selfless, kind and caring volunteer pilots pick up and deliver animals all over the country,  taking them from where they are presently on ” death row ”  to places where that word has no meaning.
And, as if all of this was not enough to put halos over their heads,  the group also offers help to Veterans, with their “ Paws of War Program, who benefit greatly from the love and devotion of a well-trained animal.
To these Pilots and the countless other volunteers who help keep this truly remarkable organization successful, may I say: God speed, you are all truly amazing Human beings.
I am really liking this new era, it feels good not to have to make all of us so sad every time that a new story is written.
Have a lovely, lazy Sunday and enjoy~

You may read more about this inspirational Organization here and connect your hearts to theirs, in the manner of your choosing:   Pilots  N  Paws

Is Google Guilty?

African_Bush_Elephants
The innocents being murdered daily for their parts

This subject was to be my first post several days ago, but because the accusations were/ are so sensational, I felt it needed a bit more investigating before sharing it and posting it to all of you.
As I am sure you are already sadly aware,  elephants and other horned African animals are being slaughtered daily for their body parts.
The list of people who are outraged by this crime is as to be expected, and includes some of the world’s most influential, right along with the rest of us,  who are just plain animal lovers.
If you are outraged by this horror being inflicted daily on innocents, for the love of all that they are, please speak for them, make your feelings known, get involved.
As if the very fact of these crimes was not enough to take our very breaths away, now a bitter shock came this week, in a petition in my email claiming that Google was making huge profits from ads that they are running on their web sites selling this illegal animal product.
For the past two days I have been obsessed with trying to find some kind of firm evidence,  a concrete truth,  on this most egregious claim,  but have been unable to do so.
So, I have decided to leave it up to you, knowing full well that you, my beloved readers,  are some of the most brilliant people on the planet.
Let us open a discussion here and see what happens.
Is Google making money from the illicit Ivory trade on their web sites?
Does this Petition speak the truth, as the email claims:  ” Google has blood on their hands. “
This could prove disastrous for me for one reason, I use Google every single day for a myriad of purposes and if this all turns out to be the truth, I will have to cut the umbilical cord forever from them.
I will never, ever, be able  turn to them again for anything and for an information junkie like me, that speaks volumes.
Let us see what we find collectively on this disgusting and deplorable subject.

Here is the purported petition: Google And The Ivory Trade Petition
And just a bit of data for you:  Kenya Urges World To Impose Moratorium

Carte Blanche

rightwhales3
A Right Whale mother and Calf
 

With this most recent  seal of approval, the US Navy is now  free to deafen, maim and murder sea life in both the Atlantic and the Pacific.
They have been given Carte Blanche.
The might of our Military will now be allowed to forge ahead full steam,  knowing well the consequences of their actions and leaving  little doubt that in this country at least,  the hammer will now be allowed to fall on those least able to protest.
The Navy’s war on whales  has been waging for years now and groups from all parts of the world have lent their voices in support for  them and other at-risk sea life,  who are being harmed by these reckless and cruel actions.
Time and time again, US Courts have taken the side of the Navy,  to the great peril of all ocean dwelling animals.
Along our Florida Coast,  the Right Whale  who comes here annually to give birth, is barely hanging on by a  thread and has only a few hundred surviving as of this date, as does their counterpart on the Pacific Coast, the endangered Blue Whale.
So why then are military actions said  to be for protecting the freedoms and liberties of this country being allowed to continue,  when they are causing the deaths of countless  animals that are already verging on extinction?
Perhaps the UN could intercede on  their behalf,  as we have so often done  with countries whose practices, ”  we  have not approved  of, “  and demanded a change in  their chosen course?
Or, it may  be that the time has come for those in charge of American Military war games  to demonstrate a  bit more  compassion, and  humanity,  when dealing with animals?
Could they even possibly  show a bit more respect for the views of those who firmly support the belief that  all life is valuable, not just the two-legged ones?
Carte Blanche does not have any place in the world of endangered animals.
 
Some place  to learn more:
Navy Allowed Undersea Warfare Training
Whales And Dolphin’s Need A Break
Court Sides With The Navy
Navy Tests Could Kill Dolphins By The Thousands

Letting Go

momandme
2010, my mom and me,  working on our matching computers~
 
To those of you who have questioned my extended absence, it has become impossible to avoid this moment any longer, so with a very heavy heart,  the reason for my absence is now confessed.
As you may know, we went to Indiana at the beginning of last month for an annual family reunion.
What happened there, was an unexpected cruelty that crushed my spirit and ended all reason for doing anything related to writing since.
Within 13 minutes of checking into the Drury Hotel in Castleton, a beautiful place, in what we thought was the safest part of town, where  we had loved staying for the past two years, our gorgeous rented car was smashed into and we lost  nearly every nice thing that we owned,  in a violent, violating, senseless robbery.
The car  was parked right  in front of the side door of the Hotel, in broad daylight, at five-thirty in the afternoon,  in a crowded parking lot, directly across the street from  the Hilton.
We had gone up to the room first to check it out and then went down to retrieve our luggage, only to discover that our laptop computers,  clothes, personal family jewelry, and so many bags of beautiful things that had been so carefully chosen and packed for a glorious two-week holiday, were all  gone.
Thirteen minutes!
Unknown to us, there have apparently been a recent rash of these smash and grabs to cars in the Indianapolis Metro area, all pretty much just like ours.
Also unknown to us,  this Drury Hotel,  has had multiple car burglaries to their guests vehicles over the past few months.
The  policeman who filed our report, after viewing  the Hotels’ security cameras, was claimed to have said, that he had arrested  this same man, doing the very same thing, only a month earlier.
Women among  you will understand this, perhaps men may as well, only our very nicest things had been brought, because we were going to be making numerous trips to places  with family and staying at such a gorgeous Hotel, the everyday things were left at home.
This proved to be a most regretful, egotistical mistake on my part.
Yes, we were not harmed and our beautiful Breanna was safely with us when this happened, so there were blessings.
Yes, much of what was taken was just stuff, but not all,
Some things that were taken, can never be replaced and it is for those things,  that my heart  has been grieving all day, every day,  since.
I had to tearfully convey to my quite elderly mother,  that the gold watch and ring that her father had given to her in the 1940′s and  that she had so generously given to me,  to also pass on, was now  gone.
These were the only material things that either of us had left of him.
Having never been robbed before in such a wholesale manner and admittedly leaning heavily towards being anal retentive, this has all  been a shock to the senses.
There was one particularly good thing that happened during this terrible week.
We met the most wonderful woman at a nearby Thrift Store who helped us try to replace enough of the stolen things to get us back home. She went out of her way to make sure that we were taken care of, even though she was the Manager of this very large store and  had so many other things to do there. Her name and the store are deliberately kept private,  as she knows nothing of this posting and I would prefer to have her blessing before sharing  either here.
So today, my mourning ends officially and on this new computer, ( with Windows 8 and touch screen, yikes! ) minus the thousands of written words, treasured emails, pictures and memories, all gone with my beautiful white Vaio, I am  beginning anew and am finally, letting go.

October 25, 2013

Perception~

Winter
Winter, without her famous prosthetic tail

As I leave you for a brief respite, or in other words, my family’s Annual Reunion,  I wanted to share one last inspiring posting with you.
This story was on our news this morning and knowing how some of you, like me, desperately need to hear something positive, uplifting, or at least not horrible for a change about animals, this is our “ good news ” story~
Cieran Kelso, is an eight year old child from England, who recently came to Florida and got the chance to meet Winter, the now world famous dolphin with a prosthetic tail, whose story was the inspiration for one of my favorite animal, postings and movies, that I have ever written about here:
Giving Back Dolphin Style
What makes this so emotional, so joyous, so inspirational, at least for me, is one particular comment made by this physically challenged child about wanting to come back when he grew up and take care of Winter.
This remark reminded me of something similar that my own physically challenged son once said to me many years ago.
He was quite young at the time, perhaps only 6 -8 years old and we were out somewhere together, when we passed by a child who was walking using a white cane and was obviously blind.
After he passed us by, my son looked up at me and said, ” Mommy that is so sad, he is blind. “
I looked down at him in total disbelief and said, “ but honey you are in a wheelchair, and you can’t walk. “
Never one shy for an opinion, he came right back at me with these never to be forgotten words,
" but Mommy, he is blind and I can see. “

So, I guess in the end, in life’s minor or major challenges, it is after all, ” all about your perception. “

Read and see more about this beautiful story here:
8-Year Old Boy and Winter the Dolphin Share a Swim
Boy Who Lost Legs Swims With Winter The Dolphin
Boy and Dolphin Swim and Bond
Boys Dream To Swim With Winter Comes True

Desert Dweller Deserted?

harriett
Our beloved Gopher Tortoise, Harriet

As many of you know, we share our property here in Florida with Harriet, our beloved Gopher Tortoise.
She brings us so much joy everyday and we have fought hard to protect her many times since moving here in 2004.
Now some of her kin in the West, are about to be “euthanized” because a Government agency that has for years protected and housed hundreds of her relatives, has run out of money.
The facility in this story is the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center, which is just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.
What always strikes me as odd, in these seemingly never-ending  occurrences, is that the people responsible for their well-being, never find it more humane to ask for adoptive parents to step in, to avoid killing the animals in question.
Why is it, that when large numbers of animals are no longer of value, or money gets tight, do they become a burden to be disposed of quickly, instead of trying to do the right thing for them?
The people running this and many other “animal agencies”  are normally government employees, who have supposedly chosen careers in the business of and are dedicated to, the protection of wild things.
When things get dicey in our own personal lives, we don’t normally throw in the towel and walk away, do we?
No, we do what we need to do, to get through the problem and make things work.
Hopefully, some of you living close enough to this situation,  can call or email, or best yet, visit this place and ask if they will allow some or all of these Endangered Desert Tortoises to be adopted?
“Euthanasia”  should never be the answer.
 
Please feel free to reblog their story and sign their petition~
 
Here are places to learn more,  please do what you can to help stop this:
Hundreds Of Endangered Tortoises Face Eviction, Euthanasia In Vegas
Federal Government Plans To Kill Hundreds Of Desert Tortoises To Save $1 Million A Year
Desert Tortoise Faces Threat From It’s Own Refuge
Desert Tortoise Faces Threat

Lagoon Lunacy?

BottlenoseDolphinKSC
A bottlenose dolphin in Florida waters
Picture credit: NOAA


On our news this morning was a brief story about the suspected cause of all the recent bottlenose dolphin deaths along the Atlantic Coast, including our own Indian River Lagoon.
The conclusion reached and reported, was that the dolphins had possibly contracted a virus.
Although, my education was in Anthropology, not Biology, my thinking normally leans with the scientific community.
But, not this time!
I found this story to be suspect, to say the very least.
So, in response to this news story report of the theory deduced by NOAA,  my question is this:
Is a virus causing the sea grasses to die as well?
Not sure, but don’t think that plants and animals are affected by the same illnesses, are they?
Has the mega Agency been “encouraged”  to diffuse the swell of hostility towards those responsible for polluting, by pushing this virus theory?
Yes, many years ago, a virus did kill many marine animals and cause a huge die off, however, did it kill plant life as well then too?
Just asking, because we have had massive aquatic plant death here, in addition to marine life and birds.
You decide, but how very convenient to attempt to direct the bright lights or glare of a questioning  public, away from the more plausible cause of illness and death for our Florida wildlife, both plant and animal alike, with this questionable at best, theory of a virus.
Do “ they”  think that we are so na├»ve, we just will swallow this idea without question and stop blaming the true culprit in this heartbreaking tragedy, which is the out of control pollution, as a result of chemical run off and toxins in our once pristine waters?
As a child of the rebellious ’60′s, may I simply suggest that what was true then, might perhaps be even more relevant today,  “question authority. ”
At least, couldn’t  we get a second opinion?
 
NOAA: Virus Likely Causing Dolphin Deaths

Lethal Lagoon

BottlenoseDolphinKSC              IndianRiverLagoonUSFWS
Pictured on left:  A bottlenose dolphin in the Banana River  
Pictures on the right: The Indian River Lagoon
Picture credit:   L - NASA     Picture credit: R - USFWS


When most people think of Florida, the first image that comes to mind, may be our crystal clear or turquoise water, followed closely behind by our glorious wildlife.
But, that beautiful image is in grave danger of becoming only a distant memory.
Florida’s water and wildlife, that in the past were our pride and joy, are suffering and we are all of us to blame.
A visit to one of our world-famous, heavily visited shore lines or tourist areas, instantly reveals what has become of a long ago perfect paradise.
Indeed, one of our most beloved and formerly pristine wildlife and water treasures, is the Indian River Lagoon on the Mid Atlantic Coast.
In the not so distant past, this area was considered to be 156 miles of sheer delight and wonder.
But, the boyhood home waters of our Senator Bill Nelson, is no longer pristine, nor exquisitely beautiful and the plethora of wildlife, namely dolphins, manatees, pelicans, and countless marine life that once flourished here, are either dying or already dead.
The high level of concern is due to the large number of bottlenose dolphin deaths, who are considered by many to be the  ”canary in the mine” species in this area.
Those who love the lagoon feel sick and want to stop this, but the too often injected government, or political red tape, stands in the way of the lagoon’s salvation.
Officials are once again taking the wrong pathway and want to do a two-year investigation to examine the cause of it all, to the great chagrin of most who live here, who already know the answer to this question.
The cause of, or root of, the dirty, poisoned, polluted water is purely and simply, toxins.
This latest catastrophe began a few years ago, when a red tide or algae bloom, killed off massive amounts of the lagoon’s life-giving sea grasses.
Toxins kill the sea grass, which the fish need, so, no sea weed, no fish, and without the fish, the larger animals starve.
Continual run off of toxins, in the form of pesticides and herbicides, etc.  from our lawns, farms and factories, even septic tanks, drains directly into Florida’s aquifers, as well as the lakes, all over the state, at a staggering rate that may surely end all Marine life here, if left unchecked.
No, we do not need another investigation, survey or breaking news story  to know that we humans are the cause of it all.
We simply cannot continue to do as we please here and expect the Planet to just,  ”take it.”
We are all reaping the ugly seeds that were sown decades ago, and the future of Florida’s Marine life, even we humans, depends on whether or not we stop pretending that this is not happening and start reversing the life-robbing cycle we began with little concern for the future.
What we do up above, always ends up in our aquifers, we are drinking it and bathing in it, the animals are swimming and living in it, and in too many places, it has become a toxic soup that can no longer sustain life.
Everybody from Joe Citizen, to Senator Nelson, to Audubon of Florida, and NOAA, has a suggestion, an opinion, about what we need to do about the lagoon and this tragedy, but still nothing gets done.
Hello, people, we need to stop talking and start doing.
This is not rocket science.
The problem is non discriminatory, never-ending,  dumping of poisons into our waters, period!
We all created this mess, you, me, farmers, factories, US Sugar, and every single person, group, or place that uses chemicals in this state, that end up in our water, now we have to clean it up, end of story.

Some places to learn more:
Crisis In the Indian River Lagoon
Florida Waters Alive With Toxic Algae, Toxic Politics
NOAA to Investigate Dolphin Deaths In Indian River Lagoon
The Campaign For a Clean  Indian River Lagoon
9 Investigates Dolphin, Manatee Deaths In Indian River

Birthday Boy~

redford1      redford
Happy Birthday to Humanitarian, Eco-Activist, Actor, Director, Robert Redford.
 
Your contributions, your dedication to all that is wild and free, to the Environment that you are so passionate about, are so numerous, there is scarcely room to name them all here.
Even though your private world is fiercely guarded and keeps many at bay, your public persona gives you away.
You are one of only a handful of supreme protectors of Nature and because of the imprints you have made on Mother Earth,  your legacy will live on, long after you have left this material world.
Redford’s outstanding contributions to film are legendary, but it is what he has done for the wild places and wild things, his defense of the rights of Native people, that have made him number 2, on my personal list of the Earth’s most influential people, right behind Mahatma Gandhi.
In the end, it isn’t really about what we possess, what matters much more, is what we do with our limited time here.
From the very beginning, Robert was determined that the entertainment world would not force him into being just another pretty face, even though it is such a lovely one.
He has railed repeatedly against this and has chosen projects in both life and films, that were truly worthy of what his legacy would become, as an environmentalist, activist and humanitarian.
My favorite film of his for acting is, The Candidate  and The Milagro Beanfield War, is my favorite for his directing.
Mr.  Redford, you like Gandhi, have given so unselfishly for nearly your entire life, to make the world a better place and have rightfully earned the respect and admiration of millions for your tireless efforts.
Wherever you are on this day Robert, here’s hoping that it is filled with the abundance of joy that you have brought to so many, for so long.
Happy Birthday Kid~
 
A meager few places to learn more about this American Rebel with so many causes:
The Redford Center
Redford Gets Behind Efforts To End Horse Slaughter
The Sundance Institute
Courage of His Convictions
Forever Wild
 
If you need more, just Google his name and sit back and enjoy~

If You Knew~

mimosabrown11
Our Mimosa Tree with a Brown Swallowtail

If you are like me, you love to spend the summer outside, planting and spoiling your yard and/or your gardens and taking great delight in the myriad of colorful things that come to enjoy them with you~
As you can imagine, Florida, being a tropical paradise, has as many gorgeous plants, as it does things to enjoy them.
You make countless trips to your local stores and bring home bright, beautiful flowery things that you hope will not only live and prosper, but will also please the little things that come everyday and politely pollinate them all for you.
That would be the glorious butterflies, bees and hummingbirds, to name but a few.
But, what if these very pretty things that you brought home, were covered with bad things that were hurting our little winged friends?
Would you still bring them home?
Of course not!
Well, if you shop at Lowe’s or Home Depot or other similar Garden Stores, the plants that you are bringing home, just could be,  ” laced with pesticides. “
 
If you would like to learn more about all of this and also wish to sign a petition addressed to the CEO’s of these companies, insisting that they “cease and desist”  in this diabolical practice, please look at some of these links:
Gardeners Beware
Study Finds Many “Bee-Friendly” Plants Laced with Pesticide
Are the Flowers You’re Buying Killing Bees?
Pilot Study Finds Plants Sold As ‘Bee Friendly’ Pretreated With Pesticides
 
BTW:  One last word of caution, the Wild Bird Seed that we all bring home for the gorgeous birds who come each day to visit us, also has pesticides in them:     Bird Seed Poisons Wild Birds
No Dorothy, our world has not turned out to be a place of, ” better living through chemistry! “

This Little Piggy~

chrispbacon  Chris-P-Bacon1  chrisp  sleepybaby
Chris P. Bacon and Doctor Len Lucero    All pictures credit: Doctor Len Lucero

Going through some pretty old newspapers this morning, I came across an old, but “new to me” story and knew that it needed to be shared with all of you.
Near us there is a Veterinarian who is a one of a kind, very special breed of Doctor.
You see, that is what he would have had to have been, to accomplish what he did.
Right about now, many of you are thinking that I am obsessed with baby animals this week, ok, agreed, it must look that way, but this is all purely coincidental, I can assure you.
After Deer, who absolutely own me, my next favorite animals are pigs.
Does this come from the many summers in Indiana spent on my Uncles farm, where my job everyday was to feed them and the chickens?
Perhaps.
But seriously, how can you not love a baby pig, it simply is impossible.
Now, this little piggy is NOT like any other, he is very, very special, just like the Doctor who adopted him and changed his tiny life.
This little piggy much like my oldest son, was born unable to walk, his back legs did not work properly.
My son’s leg’s, like Chris P.’s,  did not work properly either, he was born paralyzed and is a paraplegic, which is why this story went right straight to my heart.
It all began when the original owner of this little pig, brought him into a local Vet Hospital and gave him to the Doctor.
The Vet being the humanitarian that he was, made her a promise, that he would do his best for the little guy and keep him alive as long as possible.
Well, Doctor Len Lucero has exceeded any and all expectations in that category.
So began the story of Chris P. Bacon,  ( I will forgive the Doctor for this name ) because of his extraordinary efforts to help make the pig’s life as good as he possibly could.
Doctor Lucero created a device that would act as the pig’s hind legs and allow him nearly completely normal mobility.
This was not an easy task and his efforts and Chris’s responses to them, are simply so inspiring, that the little guy became an instant internet mega star.
He now has his own Facebook Page and countless stories, pictures and videos of him are everywhere.
Very soon, there will be a  3 volume book set  about their many adventures together.
Recently Chris was at our Breanna’s Vet Hospital at the UF in Gainesville, for some surgery and one can only imagine the reactions of the other visitors that day!
The rest of Chris P.’ s story is pure Hollywood and what has since followed, gives one hope for our species, which you already know  if you follow this blog, that occasionally, I do lose faith in Humans for their frequently egregious treatment of animals.
BTW, just got off of the phone with Doctor Lucero, while asking him for picture use permission.
He says that his favorite picture of them together, is the one where Chris is giving him a kiss.
My personal favorite is the one where he has fallen asleep~
I keep remembering something that my grandmother used to say to me years ago about facing life’s many challenges, ” when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. “
I think perhaps, that the Doctor and Chris may be opening a highly successful lemonade stand very soon~
 
You can read and see much more about Dr. Lucero and Chris P. here:
Chris P. Bacon Facebook Page
Famous Bacon: Florida Piglet’s Disability Is No Handicap To Viral Fame
Florida Pig Using Wheelchair Becomes An Inspiration
Video: Piglet Chris P. Bacon Charms Online Viewers
Pig In Wheelchair Lands 3 Book Deal

October 11, 2013

Florida’s Future Felidae

pantherkittenFFWC
A Florida Panther Kitten      
Picture credit: FWC

Greetings from the Sunshine State.
Please say hello to the newest member of the critically Endangered Florida Panther Family.
Now, if you don’t have the great pleasure of living here, chances are that you may have never heard of, nor have ever seen, our beautiful Florida Panther.
This rarest of the rare, of America’s most Endangered animals, whose numbers hover currently between 100-160 and although they may have difficult challenges ahead, for the moment at least, there is reason for unexhilerated joy.
Several years ago, a pair of very young orphaned Panthers were taken in and rehabilitated by Florida Fish and Wildlife and when they were finally able to fend for themselves, they were set up to be tracked and then released back into the wild.
Such great thought was given as to the exact location where the young female was released, that she found a mate quite quickly and   “ oh glory days, ”   has just given birth to a kitten.
This is cause for such great celebration, for a species that has had so little to feel good about for more than twenty years.
Now, this little girl will hopefully grow up and one day soon, will also bring another new life to her fragile species.
Every new life added to the Florida Panther world, is one step closer to avoiding the extinction, that just a short time ago looked absolutely inevitable.

To Protect And Serve

babyloggerhead3
A Loggerhead Hatchling
Photo credit: NPS

Derek Conley, a Sarasota Police officer was out just doing his job, when he was presented with a very unusual chance to be a hero.
You see, Officer Conley saved nearly 100 baby sea turtles who had taken a wrong turn on their way out to sea and freedom and were heading into a hotel at Lido Beach.
This man’s awesome actions gives a whole new meaning to the standard police motto which proudly states, that their duty is to, “protect and serve.”
When Officer Conley came upon the large number of hatchlings crossing the parking lot at a Resort, he jumped into action and with the help of some of the guests at the hotel, he quickly scooped up nearly 100 sea turtle hatchlings who were headed in the wrong direction, instead of towards the beach.
It was very apparent that the little ones were obviously distracted by the bright lights at the Resort.
This aware and alert Officer even had the presence of mind to call the correct authorities about the situation, as well as stop traffic to protect the babies.
This is such a critical time in Florida and other sea turtle nesting areas right now, which is why residents along the beaches known to have nests are instructed to observe “ lights out ” until the end of October, to save the hatchlings lives.
And in this case, these little ones were very lucky to have a man on duty who did exactly all of the right things, at the right time.

Learn more about this awesome rescue:
Sarasota Police Officer Rescues Nearly 100 Sea Turtle Hatchlings
Police Officer Saves Baby Sea Turtles
Florida Police Officer Saves Dozens Of Baby Sea Turtles
Florida Cop Saves 100 Baby Turtles

Conservation Corridors

BearunderpasslakecountyAnimalsbridgeflatheadreservation






(L ) A Black Bear underpass near our home in Florida   (R) An animal Bridge, the Flathead Reservation in Montana
Picture credit: (L) Florida DOT     Picture credit: (R) Djembayz

To some people, they are a supreme waste of money, to animals, they are their only hope in a daily battle with vehicles to get across dangerous roadways.
When humans, cars and concrete came into their worlds, animals had no clue of the dangers that came with them, so sadly, they have been killed by the thousands all over the country, indeed, the world.
Now new safety precautions are available to stop the collisions between wildlife and cars speeding down our highways, they are called conservation corridors and here in Florida, they might just be the difference between extinction and survival for our beloved Florida Panther.
Over the past decade entirely too many Panthers have been killed by the cars invading their ever-shrinking world.
With houses, condos, shopping centers and the like crowding them into smaller and smaller habitats, is it any wonder that they are trying to move away?
Not to mention that their gene pool is becoming severely limited due to the lack of available mates.
These conservation corridors will enable not only the Panthers, but bears and many other types of wildlife to safely get over, under or around the traffic that can and does end their lives everyday.
The many protective wildlife passageways, also known as corridors or culverts, have been in place across America and the world, since the mid 1900′s and have proven to be quite successful.
Not only do wildlife crossings save animals lives, they also prevent and avoid serious crashes which take many human lives as well.
Why then, when so much good comes out of these wildlife crossings elsewhere, is there any opposition against them here?
You guessed it, it is all about the money.
Some with the authority and the connections to put the brakes on them, claim that spending so much to build them, is an outrageous expense, when times are so tough for everybody.
But since so often, cars are involved as well, how much is a human life worth?
I dare not ask these people about the worth of an animal’s life, because I already know the answer.
It seems like we always have endless sums of money for funding endless conflicts worldwide, or helping to either put in place, or overthrow various governments in countries where we will be well rewarded in one way or another.
Animals cannot vote or write checks to fund political campaigns, they are simply on this earth for us to admire, take delight in and protect when necessary.
Everyday, animals must make choices and cross busy roads to get to their food, sometimes it is the last one that they will ever make.
At some point in each of our lives, we all must make choices and these decisions will remain in our hearts long after the actions have been taken.
You can make a difference in their lives, be concerned,  get involved, but most of all, care!
Will you deliberately go out of your way to do something to make an animal’s life safer or better today?

Here are a few facts to feed your brain:
Wildlife Will Pass Under I-4
A quite comprehensive PDF report on the subject:
Existing Structures for Terrestrial Wildlife
The generic definition at Wiki:  
Wildlife and Roads
Wildlife Vehicle Collisions

Giggles Is Gone

bbbridge1cropbridge          Fawnforestwander
Pictures in the center:  " A fawn in the grass
Picture credit:  forest wander

Two Covered Bridges in my home state of Indiana, left-Parke County, right-Brown County.

Could someone please explain this series of events to me?
I must be in an ignorant fog, because how on earth can this make any sense to anyone?
A baby deer taken in by a concerned family after it had apparently been abandoned, was turned over to a ” no-kill “ facility in Wisconsin, who were then forced by ” state laws ” to” do their job. “
It took 13 very ” official ” and armed people to end its tiny, young life, it would have only taken one to save it, Wisconsin’s Governor.
There’s that word again euthanized, they just can’t say the word, murdered, can they?
I was raised in Indiana, where these gorgeous creatures run wild nearly everywhere, well at least they did all of the summers spent on my Uncle’s farm in Southern Indiana, near what is known as Brown County.
Last summer when we were up for the Annual Family Reunion, we drove down to the old farm area and traveled around the back roads, admiring the Covered Bridges near Bean Blossom.
All of this brought back wonderful memories of my Uncles farm, so the day had a special meaning. As we approached the Bean Blossom Covered Bridge, for no apparent reason, just as we turned a corner on a dusty road, two quite young deer appeared from out of nowhere and just stood at the side of the road, gazing quietly at us.
They showed absolutely no fear, just munching and watching, as we drove VERY slowly past them.
Did I hold my breath, you bet!
There is no greater treasure in my world, than being among the wild things, where ever they happen to cross my path.
This day was a treasured memory.
It has occurred to me many times, that my love of deer may be just a wee bit excessive, as seeing them dead on the road, nearly kills me every single time.
So, you can understand how this story resonates very deeply with me.
As the species with the so-called larger brains, perhaps we might wish to consider trading them in for more compassionate hearts because we don’t seem to have a very good track record with the creatures with the so-called smaller ones.
This bill, or law in Wisconsin, like so many others concerning animals, may have originally had good intentions, but it’s the implementing of it, that may need a bit of tweaking.
You may read about this law and the fawn here, BTW, the many angry comments below the story, only demonstrate just how very frustrated the world has become with “Officials” just “doing their jobs” with animals.

Here is the tragic story:
Wisconsin DNR Secretary Says Fawn Had To Be Euthanized