Walking with the Alligators

Walking with the Alligators
A Florida Alligator

January 24, 2016

A River Otter Rescue

River otters,  (not the ones in the story):  Lontra Canadensis
Picture credit:
Dmitry Azovtsev
This morning there was a sweet story on our local TV news about three tiny river otter babies who were rescued recently and right now are fighting for their lives.
It was disappointing that after spending  most of the day calling and searching, not one picture of a baby otter was available, or a person to approve their picture being used.
But, thankfully, they are in the stories below for you to enjoy.

The wee ones are being tenderly tended to and nursed by kindly volunteers at the Florida Wildlife Hospital/Rehab and Sanctuary in Palm Shores Florida, which is located between Melbourne and Cocoa Beach on the Atlantic Coast.
Please make sure to look at their Wish list to see exactly what they want and need,  to allow them to continue doing their good work.
This non profit organization is very dependent on volunteers and donations from the public, to continue their work with injured and abandoned wildlife here in Central Florida.
Seeing these tiny babies today, brought back happy memories of the many seen in Monterey Bay years ago.
The otters ongoing frolicking delighted the visitors to the waters all around the Monterey Bay Aquarium who would stand and watch them play for hours.
The river otter is a small to medium sized fur bearing mammal found widely across the Country, usually near food and water sources of their liking, and they usually live in Dens near their chosen food and water sources.
The most common food of choice will be fish or amphibians, yet they can also be omnivores eating a wide variety of available foods.
Attention to water quality in America has helped the river otter stay out of trouble, it is fairly adaptable to many types of water, from rivers and ponds, to lakes and coastal fresh water estuaries.
In the early discovery years of this country and the encroaching civilization that accompanied it,  this sleek beautiful animal had been mercilessly hunted by trappers for their fur, nearly to complete decimation, but at this time, for many reasons, their numbers are a bit more stable.
Their greatest threat today, is their habitat and/or ecological destruction, basically the things that bothers us, bothers them as well.
After learning more about these beautiful, delightful creatures, perhaps, like me, you will believe that they were indeed quite lucky to be rescued as they were.
Places to learn more:
Three baby otters rescued in Palm Shores
River otters are playful inhabitants of Florida’s watersheds
Wildlife officials rescue otter pups found at Titusville construction site
Three baby otters rescued
Wildlife officials rescue otter pups found at Florida construction site
Florida Wildlife Hospital

January 20, 2016

Creeping Indigo

Creeping Indigo
Picture credit: Habitat for Horses

If this name means nothing to you, and you own horses, be thankful.
You are lucky!
This is the name of a local weed that is quite toxic and has been killing horses and other grazing animals all over Florida for years.
First the story was on our local News and then later  I saw it again on Twitter in a story written by Dinah Voyles Pulver of the Daytona Beach News Journal.
After reading and hearing about these deadly incidences, I was concerned enough to immediately call our Vet for either a confirmation,  or at the very least an educated opinion on the issue.
Then I spent the rest of the day gathering other reference stories for today’s Blog post.
This has been to say the least, an unsettling 24 hours.
My fear, of course, was that consuming the weed might be fatal for dogs as well, as it looked like plants we have on our property.
The plant was brought to Florida in 1925, by the University of Florida for a series of experiments, but after an animal died, the work stopped.
Sadly, even though they ditched the project, apparently the plant lived on and thrived and spread in different directions around the state.
Not only horses, are affected, but cows, sheep, goats, rabbits, chickens and other animals that have eaten it and died.
Pigs it is said, seem to avoid it.
Giving me once again, fodder for my confirmed opinion that pigs are exceptionally intelligent.
It may also kill local deer who eat it.

Creeping Indigo
Picture credit: WESH TV

This toxic weed, owners of deceased animals say, is something like catnip or candy, to the victim.
They seem to be unable to stop eating it, even when the can barely walk anymore.
This is heartbreaking for all involved.
But, what really bothers me the most, is that this plant should never have been brought here to begin with.
Like so many other dangerous Global disasters, in the past, it just all got out of control.
Two things can help you to identify this weed in your own yard or pasture, after a night of cold weather,  the weed will likely have tiny salmon/orangish colored flowers on it and most telling, the plant can have a massive tap root.
This huge root is what makes the plant so very difficult to get rid of.
The plant also has long runners which enable it to hide or disappear in a field of grass.
Here is what disturbs me and many others including those who have lost their animals. There is no known treatment, or cure for this and a nearly complete lack of support by UF, who brought it here in the first place.
Recently they have started a program for educating the public, but it has been allowed to become so wide spread, control is not likely, ever, across the state.
Please do take the time to learn more about this very toxic weed if you have animals that graze, it may save their lives.
Please educate yourself and Google Creeping Indigo.

Places to learn more:
Creeping Indigo Toxicity
Deadly weed kills Ruskin Horse
Habitat for Horses
Deadly weed dooms horses
Creeping Indigo

January 18, 2016

No Limits!

Alvin Garcia Flores from Nebraska getting a very personal delivery
Picture credit: UCF Today


As the mother of a physically challenged son, you have to know how special sharing this story with you is for me.
Until you have walked, or rode/wheeled,  in their lives, it would be nearly impossible to understand just how hard their lives can be at times and how gifts like this can make a huge, if not life changing difference to them.
So let me begin by saying God Bless these students at UCF and Limbitless Solutions, for the joy that they bring and give to all.
It has been a busy two or so years for the creative crew at this local University, the University of Central Florida here in Orlando.
Always giving us a reason to be proud, this week’s newest recipient was another child born missing a limb, specifically an arm, and was presented by the group, a creation that would make like any child  and I’m sure many adults as well, completely over joyed.
The child was nine year old, Alvin Garcia Flores from Nebraska, who  was the exited and delighted recipient of a new bionic arm,  personally delivered by none other than ” Darth Vader. ”
Over the past few years locals have watched in awe and admiration, and sometimes even overwhelmed with the level of work that these students at UCF  do for those with physical challenges using 3D printing technology.
Recently this Christmas,  the group gave new bionic arms to 12 very grateful children.
But, the presentation that generated the most excitement had to be the one that brought Robert Downey, Jr.  to  meet with 7 yr old Alex Pring to present him with his ” Iron Man “ bionic arm in Atlanta in 2014.
This meeting was part of the Collective Project which was arranged/supported by Microsoft, which brings students and technology together to ” change the world.”
Oh,  did I mention that there is no cost to the children or their families for this unbelievable gift of mobility?
The group is a 501 c non profit and gladly accepts  any and all donations to support their work, please  take a look a their web site or Twitter page for more on how you can get involved and lend a  ” hand.”
This genius team at UCF,  is lead by Executive Director and founder, Albert Manero who says: ” Let’s show students that engineering is a tool to help change the world. “
” We engineer hope! “
Yes, for these awesome students, there simply are no limits!
Places to learn more:
Darth Vader Helps Fulfill Child’s Dream – Delivers Bionic Arm to 9-Year-Old
Boy gets prosthetic ‘Stormtrooper’ arm from non-profit group
Limbitless Solutions
The Collective Project
Robert Downey Jr. and Alex meet
Robert Downey Jr. presents child with his own ‘Iron Man’ robotic arm
12 great kids get robotic arms for Christmas
The Clearwater Aquarium and Anni

January 12, 2016

Packing Up the Pachyderms~

A Circus elephant in 1930, a life spent in silent suffering and servitude!

It has been painful not being here, but the reasons were clearly out of my control.
2014 was a difficult year for me, but my issues were nothing compared to Breanna’s.
As of right this moment, we are both mended and well.
So, with a clear head, heart and body, today begins a new year and an eagerly awaited return to writing about the animals I care so deeply for on our Planet.
A story on our local news last night, was the best news I have heard about any animals in over a year, so I knew I would be writing this morning.
As with the ongoing clashes against Sea World and the toxic bread additives at Sub Way, once again, you, the dedicated Global Bloggers and Tweeters, have not only influenced, but absolutely crushed a source of wrong and helped to make it right.
Let this latest success be an inspiration for all those who care and want to make changes, be your positive reward for continuing to push on, even when it appears to be either a lost cause, or a battle that simply cannot be won against powerful businesses who harm or kill animals.
This time the Ringling Bros. Circus is claiming, or should we say shouting, “Uncle” at those who have relentlessly pursued them over their mistreatment, or down right cruelty to Elephants for years.
And as of last night, they have publicly announced that they will be retiring all of their Elephants this May, or a year and half earlier than planned, it is  hard to believe they admitted this, but said it was a direct result of the endless petitions, blogging and just plain hostile media blitzes against them, that “encouraged” them do this now.
The Circus Community has had Elephants in their shows since at least 1882, but the recent intense and ongoing  global outcry for them to be removed has, much like the movie Black Fish, been a huge causal factor in their decision to retire all of their Elephants to the Center for Elephant Conservation, near Tampa in Central Florida, which is NOT open to the public.
This Center has not been completely trouble-free and has had watch dog groups like the Humane Society and other always looking over their shoulders for any abuse or other.
This  retirement home for Elephants is fairly near us and we would like to take a trip soon, to see just how they are truly being treated and cared for there, only, of course, if this is permitted.
Hopefully, a report and/or pictures might also accompany the trip.
The millions who have worked so hard for so long to see this come to fruition, can at last know that these magnificent creatures will finally be allowed, after so many years of ill-treatment and suffering at the hands of humans, live in peace and safety in their well-earned retirement here in Central Florida.
Time to pack up the Pachyderms~

Places to learn more:
AP News Break: Ringling circus elephants to retire in May
Circus elephants to retire at secluded Florida preserve
Public Announcement from Ringling Brothers
Ringling Brothers Center for Elephant Conservation
Center for Elephant Conservation