Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reflecting with Maderas at the San Diego Zoo

I've watched her grow since she was born. Watched her rough-house with her brother Tikal and explore the world around her just like any child would do. 

Maderas is now 9 months old. Watching her last week was a little bittersweet - she isn't a baby anymore. The once playful cub is now coming into her own and becoming quite the elegant jaguar, just like her mother Nindiri.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Endangered Species Monday - Making a Difference with Social Media

When most people think of social media, the first things that come to mind are Facebook and Twitter. However, there is another platform that is quickly creating a stir within social media circles - Google Plus

I will be the first to admit that when Google Plus first came about I was skeptical. What was wrong with Facebook? All my friends were on Facebook so why switch to something new where I didn't know anyone ... makes sense right? Well, I created my profile and then really didn't do much.

Recently I have become very, how do I say this - bored? frustrated? over it? with Facebook.
Sure I like seeing pictures of my friends kids, but Facebook seems to have become one big advertisement or sponsored post.

I want to be informed. I want to interact with people that have the same interests as me. People from all over the world who have the same aspirations and concerns as I do about conservation. The answer - Google Plus communities. I can't say enough about how wonderful these communities are. The interaction between people is so much more than what I have experienced on Facebook and the people seem genuinely concerned about the topics.

My favorite community was started by +Rick Schwartz and it is all about conservation, endangered species, making a difference, and more. The community is called Conservation: It's about Making A Difference and I can tell you that it is doing just that.

Social media is so much more than a tweet of 140 characters or a status update on Facebook. Thanks to Google Plus I have found a new means of creating awareness and making a difference. I still love getting news through my twitter account and sharing stories there - I mean the power of a re-tweet is undeniable in making a difference for endangered animals.

I'm not ready to leave Facebook completely, but I am definitely spending less time there and more time on Google Plus.

If you're on Google Plus you can find my profile here. Circle me and let's connect.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Another animal adoption - Welcome to the family Taz

One thing that Dylan really wanted for Christmas was for someone to adopt him a Tasmanian Devil. He has been fascinated with Tasmanian devils for years and sometimes spends hours on the computer looking at pictures of them and reading about the facial tumors that are causing so many Tasmanian devil deaths.

Lucky for Dylan, he has an aunt who knows how much he loves these little guys because she symbolically adopted a Tasmanian Devil from World Wildlife Fund in Dylan's name.

Tasmanian devils are mostly solitary animals and found only on the Australian state of Tasmania. They are nocturnal, which means they eat at night, and sleep in nests of grass and bark in hollow logs. Once thought to be a threat to livestock, Tasmanian devils were hunted extensively until they became officially protected in 1941.

The species slowly came back from being over hunted and now faces a different threat. Devil facial tumor disease has been killing these devils for the past decade and the population is significantly reduced - the survival of the species is considered threatened.

Welcome to the family Taz!

You can see our other adopted family members by clicking the tab "Animal Adoptions" at the top of the page.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunset Sunday - Fire in the sky above Catalina

Something told me it was going to be a fabulous sunset, so I went to a local viewpoint and waited patiently with my camera in hand. This is what I saw.

Have a fantastic week and don't forget to take time to watch the sunsets.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Reading for Wildlife to help save endangered animals

So last summer when my son was raising money for the tigers he did just about everything he could to raise money. He recycled, he helped clean out his grandparents garage, he washed cars, and of course gave up birthday presents in lieu of donations.

So in November when he was asked by the San Diego Zoo to be a tester for a new program that would launched later this year he was more than happy to help. (Basically, he's a human guinea pig to test the new program and help make improvements before it goes live.) He jumped at the chance -Anything for wildlife!

Either way, he was so excited to be a part of this and personally,  I was honored that the San Diego Zoo asked him to be one of the 8 team members.

The new program is I ______ for Wildlife. The idea is that you can pick any activity you want and raise money for endangered wildlife through donations made on your personal fundraising page.
Since Dylan loves to read and learn everything he possibly can about animals, he will be reading for wildlife.

Dylan has pledged to read 1500 pages of fascinating animal facts in 100 days.

I have created an album on the Life with Dylan Facebook page to document his progress and will be posting some video clips there as well. Dylan has a goal of raising $500 and so far he has raised $175 - If you would like to help Dylan reach his goal, please visit his personal fundraising page Any size donation is appreciated and all donations are tax deductible.

What wouldn't this kid do for wildlife?
He is truly an inspiration and his passion shines through in everything he does. Go Dylan go!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Morning stretches with Tatqiq at the San Diego Zoo

About a week ago Dylan and I went to a Polar Bear Tweet-up at the San Diego Zoo to learn more about the polar bears and other arctic animals. We had hopes of some great polar bear interactions and underwater swimming antics, but the polar bears had something else in mind. Sleeping.

In Tatqiq's defense, it was cold and early on a Sunday morning. She's a princess and needs her beauty rest. Watching her morning stretches wasn't what we had in mind, but still very entertaining.

After a few minutes of stretching, Tatqiq decided she wasn't ready to get up and went back to sleep.

While Tatqiq slept, Chinook and Kalluk were busy playing, or should I say attempting to bred again, on the other side of the exhibit. Either way, we had a wonderful time and learned so much about polar bears and the arctic fox from JoAnne Simmerson. Be sure to read JoAnne's posts on the zoo's blog to stay informed about all things polar bear. Oh, and the Polar Cam is always fun to watch too!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Endangered Species Monday - Let's Save the Rhinos in 2013

I could never choose just one animal. I mean really, let's face it, if I could save all the endangered species I would. To say that one is more important than another is not right because they are all equally important and needed on this planet. However, sometimes one animal stands out among the rest. For me that animal was a rhino. A special connection was made the moment that I touched and fed the rhino brothers at the San Diego Zoo. I had looked into the eye of an endangered species and I would never be the same.

In December I made a decision to make 2013 the year that I personally made a difference for the rhinos. After reading recent news articles, I have never been more sure of a decision.

A record 668 rhinos were killed in South Africa in 2012 - that is a 50% increase over 2011. This figure astounds me. I shed a tear for each one of the rhinos lost when I read articles about the killings. We must put a stop to poaching and educate people about what rhino horn really is - keratin - the same thing as out hair and fingernails. Rhino horn is not medicine!

Just when I thought it couldn't get any worse, I saw this headline on twitter the other day Poachers hack baby rhino with axe ... Wait, was I reading this right? This couldn't possibly be true. What good is killing a baby rhino? There is no horn to take from a 2 month old baby rhino - this is uncalled for and made me so angry. So angry and so sad that all I could do was cry. This poor defenseless rhino was being attacked because she got in the way of the poachers who were cutting off her mother's horn.

2013 is not getting off to a very good start for the rhinos. As of January 11th, the death toll is already up to eight and if this baby doesn't survive it will be nine. I have no time to spare. The number one way for me to help the rhinos is to create awareness. I will also share stories, photographs and raise as much money as I possibly can. So far I have two ways of raising money for the rhinos ...

San Diego Zoo Safari Park Half Marathon - I will not be able to run the half marathon because I am volunteering to help with the race and with Cinco de Rhino that evening. However, I can still virtually run the race and raise money for the greater one-horned rhinos. Your tax-deductible donation on my fundraising page will help make a difference. $5 or $10 or $25 it doesn't matter - every little bit helps.

I have also written a letter addressed to President Zuma as part of the One More Generation letter writing campaign. (Our letters are #557 and #558 - letters are listed alphabetically so scroll down to Fryer) These letters are a way of creating worldwide awareness and bringing our pleas to stop the poaching to President Zuma himself. I would love it if you would write a letter too!

Something has to change. This needs to be the year that wildlife poachers are stopped before it's too late. There is not much left that we can do for the Northern White Rhinos and the Javan and Sumatran rhinos are not far behind. If the numbers keep climbing at 50% increases, then we will be that much closer to another animal facing extinction.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Sunset Sunday - San Diego

No words are needed for this spectacular sunset from Christmas Day 2012.

Thank you Matt for sharing your beautiful sunset picture from San Diego, CA.

Do you have a favorite sunset picture that you would like me to feature here? If so, send me your picture and the location it was taken. After all, what good is a beautiful sunset if you can't share it with others?

Have a fantastic week and don't forget to take time to watch the sunsets.

*Please only submit pictures you have personally taken and own the rights to.

Friday, January 11, 2013

I ignited a spark and now I want more

After almost a year of talking about conservation and writing about how we can all make a difference, I finally saw that spark in someone's eye. You know, that spark you see when something you said or did made another person think hey, I can do this too.

The best part about this story - the spark I saw was in a child's eye.

A few weeks before Christmas a friend of mine told me that her son Riley (5 yrs old) saw a World Wildlife Commercial about saving the tigers and that he wanted to help save them, but he didn't want to have to touch them. When I heard this I knew what I had to do.

I would adopt Riley a tiger from the San Diego Zoo and give it to him as a Christmas gift. This way he could help save the tigers.

Riley was so excited when we gave him his tiger. We told him that his name was Christopher from the San Diego Zoo and by adopting Christopher he was helping to save the tigers.

Now Riley has a very special friend named Bear. Bear has been with Riley since the day he was born. Bear goes everywhere with Riley and there was a day not too long ago that Riley thought he had lost Bear. His Dad captured this beautiful image filled with emotion and a child's love for an animal. So you are probably thinking what does Bear have to do with the tiger? Well, I had to let you know just how special Bear was for you to understand how special it was when I found out that Christopher (tiger) was traveling alongside Bear.

Not only was Christopher hanging out with Riley and Bear, but Riley was telling people about his Mommy's friend who adopted the tiger for him so that he could help save the tigers. A 5 year old boy creating awareness about the plight of the tigers as a result of something I did ... you bet I'm on cloud nine!

Oh, and he sleeps with Riley too.

I've said before that educating children will change the world and when a child starts telling his friends and family about saving the tigers, well that just makes me more confident that I am doing something right. Riley brought Christopher to school today for share day. This, this is what it's all about.

iPhone pictures from today

When I shared the news about Riley and his newly adopted tiger with a friend of mine he said, "Be careful ... That feeling, the one you got when you saw that spark ignite because of you, it's addictive."

Man was he right - I love it and want more! Every time Riley's parents post a new picture and I see Christopher right there with him I get that feeling all over again. Riley is making a difference for the tigers by telling his friends about his adopted tiger and I am so proud of him.

This is what I want from life - I want to make a difference and inspire others to do the same.

Thank you Desi and Tammy for providing the pictures.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The simple beauty of a tree in winter

I will admit that I have become a little obsessed with trees lately. Something about the cool crisp air we have been having and the bare trees takes my breath away. Good thing I always have my phone with me to capture these moments.

Crisp afternoon skies

And then there are those times when I just have to pull over - even if it means I will be a few minutes late to work. 

Silhouette sunrise 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Quiet mornings, coffee, and making plans

Today was my last day of winter break. For the past two weeks I have not had to think about work or schedules or being anyplace that I didn't want to be. Two weeks of vacation that didn't require packing a suitcase or staying in hotels. Exactly what I needed. I have enjoyed my quiet mornings with a cup of coffee and my late nights with hot cups of tea.

My mind has been in overdrive, which is strange considering I took two weeks off from blogging and haven't been writing. Instead, I have been thinking and making plans. Thinking is so much more than just solving a problem or getting a good grade in school. I am talking about really thinking - deep thoughts about the world and your life and what great things you will do next.

Nothing is finalized yet, so I can't give you too many details. However, I can tell you that I will be doing something very special to help with rhino conservation and that I will be taking on a challenge of something that I have never done before. It is all very exciting and a little scary at the same time.

For now, I will continue to get lost in my own thoughts. I will enjoy the next two days - the weekend - before going back to work on Monday. I will keep taking life one day at a time and while my mornings may go back to being a little hectic, I will cherish my quiet mornings with coffee.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My hopes and wishes for making a difference in 2013

I woke up this morning with a feeling of inner peace and complete calmness. The house was quiet and still. The first thing I did was open the blinds and look up to the sky. Good morning 2013 ... I think we're going to do some amazing things together. The sky was beautiful.

I am ready to take on the new year with an attitude unlike those of the past. I'm not sure what happened last night, but somehow we said goodbye to 2012 and hello to 2013 as if we were in a bubble with nature. We took a walk down to the bay to watch the final sunset of 2012. Cameras in hand, we were exactly where we wanted to be - with Mother Nature.

It was as if time was standing still. The air was crisp and the water was glassy. Patches of frost lay along the banks of the bay. The sun reflected on the water giving it a rosy glow. The view took my breath away.

About this time last year I made some New Year Wishes (because I can never keep resolutions) and recently went back to read them - you know to see how I did. I  must say that I am quite proud of myself. I was able to make 4 of my 5 New Year Wishes come true in 2012. I found the time to read more and get my photographs organized. I think it is safe to say that I stopped worrying about what others think and I have definitely learned some new things. Why just last week I taught myself how to knit. The decorating bug never did bite me, but the photography bug sure did!

Since I was so successful at making my wishes come true in 2012, I think I will make five New Year Wishes for 2013. Maybe this time I can make all of them come true.

  1. Spend more time outdoors with my camera photographing the world around me. Not just trips to San Diego, but trips everywhere. Day trips up the coast or to the mountains with one thing in mind - to take lots of pictures. 
  2. Volunteer my time at local non-profit organizations. I need to feel like I am doing something that helps the environment and this is one way that I can do it. Some places may even let Dylan volunteer with me.
  3. Continue to read more, explore more, and keep learning more.
  4. Spend more time relaxing and enjoying life and less time stressing about what needs to be done. Less deadlines and more impromptu activities.
  5. Do something that makes a difference everyday because like +Rick Schwartz said, Today, like everyday, presents an opportunity for you to Make a Difference. 

Dylan and I plan on doing some amazing things in 2013 - we hope you will come along for the ride.

Happy New Year!