Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

January 30, 2014

Captivating Clydesdales

Clydesdales at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Boston
Picture credit: Paul Keleher

This weekend is, just in case you have been living under a rock, Super Bowl Sunday.
So what always accompanies this annual excuse to be a couch potato and junk food junkie?
The Super Bowl Ads, of course, which I prefer most years over the actual game.
Americans are fanatical football fans to say the very least and this is the football game of the year.
Sponsors wait all year-long for the chance to sell you their products and will pay astronomical prices to prove that theirs is the best.
So, with that in mind, let the Games and the Ads begin and bring on those Captivating Clydesdales.

My feelings about the game shall remain a well guarded secret, not wishing to offend the other side~
Please find listed below just a few of some current and past animal Super Bowl Ads.

These are the ones that made me laugh, cry or other…..
Hope that you enjoy them and the game and that your team wins.

Puppy Love
Clydesdale Foal
Lamb Streaker
A Clydesdale Tribute
Hungry Bear Chobani
Clydesdale Team
Dog Strikes Back
A Hero’s Welcome
RSPCA Australia

January 24, 2014

Withering Whales

A Long-finned pilot whale spyhopping
Picture credit:  Barney Moss

Each day as I watch our local news, I keep hoping that this will all end, but each day, it only gets worse.
We are becoming painfully aware here in Florida of the ongoing deaths of our precious ocean mammals.
Now with these new announcements this morning of even more Pilot Whales being stranded, dying and washing ashore, the gloom hangs over the state like a dark, heavy blanket.
When the dolphins, manatees and pelicans were found dead in the Indian River Lagoon, it was blamed on many factors, but many here felt pretty convinced that it was most likely caused by chemical run off and toxins in the water.
So, now that Pilot Whales are being found dead and dying, or missing from their family pods, what is to blame is being asked.
The whales that have been found are nearly emaciated, not a very good sign.
It seems likely that there is a great deal more to this tragic mystery that is being seen at present.
As the majority of them are on the Gulf Coast, it would be easy to blame this on the BP oil spill years ago.
Much to the dismay of local wildlife officials, the BP mess has had lingering disastrous effects on all of our wildlife and the food that they need to survive.
The fact that these Pilot Whales  seem to be seriously underweight, leads us to draw the conclusion that their food sources are either dead or dying, or simply toxic and worth little to keep them healthy or well nourished.
One thing is obvious, when our wonderful sea life is dying all around us, with few clues as to why, we must look inward.
What are we doing to their homes and their food sources?
So much to think about, but very few answers.
We are a species that by nature, can be quite greedy and self-absorbed, and the animals around us are paying for this gluttony with their lives.
Wake up people, what we do on this planet matters.
It matters to everything that lives, animal and plant alike.
We are their keepers, and we had better start doing a better job of keeping them.

You may learn more here:
Scientists asks public to help find missing whales off Florida coast
Stranded Pilot Whales Die in Florida Everglades
Dangerous Waters
Video of Pilot Whales Stranded in Everglades National Park
2010-2014 Cetacean Unusual Mortality Event in Northern Gulf of Mexico

January 17, 2014

Paul’s Pelicans

The Paul Kroegel Memorial in Sebastian, Florida
Picture credit: Ebyabe

Like many of you, I am sure, my Ancestors came to America from so many places.
One of them was my Grandfather who was from Prussia, a place that no longer exists and is now called Germany.
At home, he primarily spoke in German to me as a child and attempted to teach it to me.
Regretfully, I was not a very good student and only managed to learn a few words before he passed away.
But, the one thing that he did leave with me, that resonates in much of what I attempt even today, was his strong, proud work ethic.
With this thought in mind, today while reading my mail, I came across a story about a man who sadly, I had never heard of, perhaps because I did not grow up here in Florida, but in Indiana and California.
The man I speak of is Paul Kroegel, who came to Florida from Germany as a child in 1881 and left his mark on it and the world of wild life forever.
Recently there was a Festival in Sebastian, where he had  lived, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of his birth.
I wish I could have known him, much like my grandfather, Kroegel was diligent, hardworking and so dedicated to what he believed in.
He loved animals, especially birds, and did his best to protect them from marauding, murdering bullies.
Paul was quite passionate about the local Brown Pelicans who were being slaughtered for their feathers and was determined to stop it.
Mr. Kroegel was a primary impetus for the beginnings of our National Wildlife Refuge System and it was his vision of how wildlife should be treated, that initiated the overall system that we have in place today.
In 1903, President Teddy Roosevelt made Kroegel’s dream a reality, by ordering Pelican Island to become the first National Wildlife Refuge.
Kroegel became the first park Warden and was paid $1 a month for his duties.
Many years later, following a devastating Hurricane, the Pelicans temporarily abandoned the Island, and Kroegel was to have another first, a mandatory Government retirement.
He died in Sebastian in 1948.
This man fought nearly all of his life in the defense of helpless animals, proving once again, that one person can make a difference.
Kroegel, like my grandfather, led his life in an exemplary manner, giving me the will to continue fighting for animals in trouble, even on those days when I am not sure if anyone is really out there?

These are some places where you may learn more about this remarkable man:
American Conservation Hero – Paul Kroegel
German Immigrant Honored for Role in U.S. Wildlife Protection
Paul Kroegel – First Refuge Employee
Kroegel and Pelican Island
Paul Kroegel and the Story of Pelican Island
Paul Kroegel and America’s First Wildlife Refuge

January 14, 2014

Evan’s Endeavor~

Evan’s proposed Merit Badge for the BSA to protect Endangered Animals
Picture credit: Evan Nelsen


In my mail this morning came a delightful surprise, a petition created by a very young man with a passion for animals.
He is Evan Nelsen from Minnesota and he is petitioning the Boy Scouts of America, to create a new Merit Badge for the protection of Endangered, Threatened , on the verge of Extinction Animals.
Out of the mouths of babes!
As many of you who read this Blog on a regular basis may already know, my young son was also a Cub Scout and I joined a wonderful woman for several years, being a Den Mother to a small Troop of physically challenged young men in California.
Seeing this young Scout’s Petition Request for the BSA today, brought back many joyful memories and knowing that Scouting is still going strong and in the hands of young ones like this, gives me hope that as long as people like him still exist, the animals will have a chance.
Evan, I see a very bright future for you, not only in the Boy Scouts, but as a future leader, not only in America, but hopefully the World.
I seem to remember that the original intention of Scouting was to help influence, guide and encourage young boys and men, to become the next leaders of our Country.
We need so many more like you Evan, to be a beacon of light and lead the way towards a brighter and better future for all animals.
Thank you so much for your concern, your passion, your love of animals and thank you also to your parents, who surely did an excellent job in raising you, to become the kind of person that you are.

Here is the link to Evan’s Merit Badge Petition, please do read it, share it and sign it, if you agree with his thinking:
Boy Scout Merit Badge Petition

January 11, 2014

Tutu’s Torch

Archbishop Desmond Tutu at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, February 1, 2009
Picture credit: Remy Steinegger

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”
After the unshakeable darkness of the Rhino post yesterday,  this morning a saved story on my desktop has to come to rescue me from the mire.
These terrible stories take a huge personal toll on me and writing them often takes days to recover from.
So, it is a relief to be writing a feel good  story, even if it is not Sunday, it is necessary.
This is about a man for whom I have the highest regard,  who speaks up when others remain silent on not so safe issues for such an esteemed member of the Clergy.
Desmond Tutu’s  support of gay rights and other main stream issues, have likely sealed his fate and any possibility of him ever being considered for Pope, which I am sure bothers him little.
Is it any wonder that Tutu is such a cherished man, like Gandhi, Mandela and the Dalai Lama, he practices what he preaches.
These men share a common bond, along with their Nobel Peace Prizes, (Gandhi was never given this Honor which seems unconscionable) they are/were devoted to peace and kindness.
Like the others, Archbishop Desmond Tutu lives what he believes in, kindness and compassion for all, his public stances on important social issues has given them a stage for the world to draw and learn from.
Now, it  seems that he has turned his usual warm glow into written comments,  speaking up for our world’s animals for the first time.
His supportive and inspiring words were written as a forward for the new book:  Global Guide to Animal Protection.
I am overjoyed with his comments and believe his words to be as usual, well thought out and wise.
Tutu’s words will bring a whole new audience to a critical Global Issue, the treatment of animals.
Prior to this recent work by Tutu, the last ones  so high on my most respected and admired list to lend their powerful support to the plight of our world’s animals, were Gandhi and the Dalai Lama.
Bravo Mr. Tutu, you have no idea how much your words mean to those who like you, wish to see the lives of all animals made safer, better,  longer.
The torch has been passed.
A few places to learn more about this:
Archbishop Desmond Tutu Calls for Justice for Animals
Desmond Tutu backs ‘justice for animals’ cause
Press Release: We Must Fight Injustice to Animals

January 10, 2014

Rhino Rage

A soon to become extinct and most rare,  Black Rhino mother and baby. Picture credit:  Yathin S Krishnappa

**I am completely guilty of being too angry and too quick to write, after re-reading this story, it was learned that they are having an auction for this disgusting murder, BUT it will be carried out in Africa, not in the US, however, this will matter little to the dead Rhino!**
**I have just finished editing this story and have now hopefully removed all  erroneous remarks to keep it accurate.**
Earlier this morning, while watching GMA,  this banner text ran across the bottom of screen:
Dallas Hunting Club to award license today in controversial auction to kill critically endangered Black Rhino.
Can I tell you how fast I hit the stop button and went to find this story?
My stomach was sick, my heart racing, Oh God, please tell me this is not true.
But, alas, it was/is  most wickedly so.
Of course it is to be expected, that there will be those in total opposition and those who wish to see this come to fruition.
The FBI is currently  investigating ” Death Threats.”
Lines are now being drawn in the hot,  dry Texas dust.
In the past many times,  these despicable  ” Ranch Hunts ”  have made the news, the victims always being tracked and murdered by probable bored with ” run of the mill  killing, ” hunters who pay quite dearly for the pleasure of killing on private ranches in Texas.
I am personally well familiar with certain kinds of  ” Texas mentality ”  after having had the misfortune of living there for 3 long and sad years.
It was a most unpleasant experience I wish to never repeat,  that culminated with my Banks refusal to allow me to cash a check when my then husband was stationed in Korea.
I was told by a woman teller at my Bank, that  a woman could not cash a check, this was in the early sixties and I never forgot it.
Anyway back to the current Texas madness…
These private ranches somehow acquire countless wildlife and subject them to Sport/Trophy murder for the insane pleasure of idiots who feel the need to hunt down and kill a wild animal.
I suppose the idea that it is quite rare makes them even more deliriously happy.
They claim that this death will matter little because the Rhino is an old male, who can no longer reproduce.
Wow, just imagine if this line of thinking were to run rampant in the world!
If I am sounding even more hostile or irrational today than usual,  it may be due to my current elevated blood pressure just from thinking about this insidious situation.
Yes, these Hunting Ranches are on private property, that much may be true, but are there no International Laws that are being broken here, where individuals in one country can hold a raffle of a sort,  or auction,  to kill an extremely Endangered animal in another?
America, what have we become?
As if the vicious and brutal assaults, continuing even still today on these beautiful animals,  as well as elephants,  for their body parts,  were not already enough of a horror, now Americans  in this Country are going to permit, carry out  an auction give away for the privilege of to murdering a Rhino in Namibia!
The words  of Gandhi keep running through my head,  ” A Nation shall be judged by the way it treats its animals.”
Does that thought also apply to running and supporting something as evil as this to be carried out in another country?
Shame on us, shame on Namibia.
Ultimately though, the key irritant in this entire mess for me,  is their repeated use of the word Safari.
Murdering innocent animals is not a Safari, it is a slaughter.
These kinds of guilty pleasures that must continuously be fed and appeased, remind me of certain Biblical times,  right before it was all taken down.
I simply cannot wrap my mind around the ability of some to find joy, happiness or any other positive feeling from killing an animal that may quite soon become extinct.
This  abominable behavior is all surreal, it is insanity.
May God help the innocent animals, may God forgive the guilty who murder them~
On the remote possibility that you may wish to learn more,  here are the brutal facts of this story:
FBI Looks Into Threats Ahead of Rhino Hunt Auction
2 Sides Lock Horns as Dallas Hunt Club nears Action of Permit to kill Black Rhino
Dallas Hunt Club Receives Death Threats
Dallas Safari Club Calls in FBI after Death Threats over Rhino-Hunt Auction

January 8, 2014

Growing Pains

Picture credit:  U.S. Department of Energy Genome Programs

Being basically claustrophobic,  this story quickly caught my eye.
This problem may only be in Florida for right now, but trust me,  it will be coming to a state near you,  eventually.
Our fragile Wildlife is being shoved, pushed and run out of town by a burgeoning population explosion here and our Ecosystems have been pushed to the brink of collapse.
This painful problem is growing exponentially with each new snow bird and retiree,  who decides not to go back from whence they came, but to stay on  in Paradise and put down new roots in the Sunshine State.
At this very moment,  Florida is about to overtake New York as the second most populous state in America, not a thing for which we should be particularly proud,  in my opinion.
Quite the contrary, this is terrifying news for wildlife defenders and protectors because we know what the translation of that about to be statistic means, animals are going to die.
With every trip that we make to one of the Coasts or down to the Keys, we are shocked by just how many new houses, Hotels, Restaurants and other towering buildings have popped up, since the last one.
To say that it is getting crowded here,  is a massive understatement.
All of these new residents are using up Florida’s water, and countless natural resources to the point of near depletion.
For years, Florida’s Ecosystems have taken some serious hits, but they simply cannot bend or yield much more.
Over crowding and overpopulation of any place, especially here where so many animals are already on either an Endangered or Threatened List and hanging on by a thread, leads to a myriad of evil for wild animals,  their Habitats and our Environment.
The Animals, Environment and  Ecosystems,  are all negatively impacted by too many, taking too much.
Many are thrilled by what will come here with the invading hordes, like more representation in Washington and endless blank checks, for those who wish to entice us for more and more buildable land and the like.
What they fail to comprehend is,  what it will do to the already exhausted  Ecosystems, wild things and plants that presently call Florida home.
Do we really need or want more people to move here?
No we do not, if we wish to sustain the unique natural beauty that Florida presently is.
What we really need here in Florida,  is a Population Cap or Master Plan,  that restricts overgrowth.
There was one in the town in California that I came here from.
Can we put a cap on an entire state?
If not, why not?
And if we just sit back and do nothing to stop this runaway train, we must all be prepared to watch as one by one, our  beautiful wild things here die from lack of sustainable living space.
Humans don’t do well when they are crowded,  why don’t we understand that animals are exactly the same.
Even lab rats turn on each other when they are overcrowded.
My fear is that these particular growing pains are going to prove fatal for Florida’s Wild everything.
You may wish to read more about this Issue here:
Florida’s  Population Growth Comes At Steep Cost To Wildlife
10 Species Our Population Explosion Will Likely Kill Off
The Human Population Explosion
Human Overpopulation

January 1, 2014

Their World, Their Future~

ARKive – Images of Life on Earth
Picture credit: Animal World

As the world celebrates a New Year, my thoughts are as usual, focused on animals.
Recently there has been a lot of reflection and or controversy about the ESA, the Endangered Species Act turning 40 and whether or not it is, gasp, still necessary.
Merely writing these words sent shivers down my spine.
Since it was first signed into law by President Nixon in 1973, the ESA has seen many successes, as well as a few failures, but the numbers alone, are not the most critical factor, when it comes to the value or worth of this Act/Law.
The single most important reason for its need, is above all,  to provide a buffer zone between humans and their world and the animals and plants/flora, that would face certain peril, or indeed even extinction, if it ceased to exist.
The success stories of the ESA are by now quite familiar: the Bald Eagle, Grizzly Bear, Peregrine Falcon, Gray Wolf, California Condor and a wide array of birds, mammals, amphibians and reptiles.
Their track record of success at 99% is most impressive.
The point is, the ESA has made a difference when little else could have.
Now, with the suggestion by some, that the ESA needs an overhaul, if the protection of those on the brink of extinction were left up to as has been suggested, to individual states, where do you suppose their priorities would lie?
In Florida to date, we have seen little evidence that Governor Scott would protect wildlife or wild land, at the risk of offending a potential donor, as he is currently running for re-election and that means not biting the hands of those who write those big campaign checks.
The Governor is, I am sure, being pressured by great hordes of developers to sell them extremely valuable land and let the concrete pouring begin.
I am not against development, but am very much opposed to allowing it to be done in wildlife sensitive areas where many animals right now are already in daily conflicts with humans and dying for merely trying to survive.
Human and wildlife encounters are becoming daily news here in Florida, with the recent tragic Black Bear stories, the ongoing Panthers human/conflicts, Brown Pelicans once again being maimed by those who do not wish to share their fish bounty, wild creatures all over our state being caught and sold out of the country to the highest bidders, it goes on and on.
When the safety and protection of threatened animals is left to those with personal goals, or ulterior motives, animals will always lose.
So, the first priority for me in this brand new year, is to assure that the Endangered Species Act remains the single greatest safety net in this country for those with no voice.
As this new year begins, how many of us are truly aware of that delicate web that holds the lives of so many animals and plants together?
If the ESA is allowed to be altered, as is being proposed right now and the power to control it is  turned over to individual states, what will they do?
Will their first thoughts be of the welfare of those now barely hanging on, or will they be pressured or enticed into building new malls, shopping centers, casinos and condos, and the animals can all be damned?
Please keep this in mind and respond, if like me, you don’t believe that the lives of animals should be controlled by those who may not have their best interests in mind.
It is after all, their world, their future~

Some powerful sources of information about this vital issue:
Endangered Species Act Is As Important As Ever
Keep Endangered Species Act Strong
Grizzlies An Issue As Endangered Species Act Turns 40
The Endangered Species Act  Turns 40
At 40, US Endangered Species Act Faces Attacks 
The Endangered Species Act Celebrates Forty Years Of Wildlife Protection (VIDEO)
Defending The Endangered Species Act
 40 Species For 40 Years Of  The Endangered Species Act