Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Conversations with an Amazon Milk Frog at Aquarium of the Pacific

I am always fascinated with the frogs when we visit the Aquarium of the Pacific. Particularly these Amazon milk frogs. I am drawn to them and will stand next to their exhibit for what I'm sure seems like hours to my son.

These two remind me of old men sitting on the porch talking about the good old days.

I wonder what they are thinking.
They are probably wondering who the crazy lady with the camera is.

They can call me crazy ... I don't mind.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Simple ways to make every day Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! A day to celebrate the Earth and ways that we can show her respect and keep her looking beautiful a little longer.

I'm not going to tell you how you should celebrate Earth Day, or which Earth Day events were the best over the weekend. Instead I am going to tell you how simple it is to make every day Earth Day.

  • Follow the three R's ... Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Reduce the amount you use, Reuse whenever possible, and Recycle what you can't reuse.
  • Reduce the amount of energy used in your home. By simply turning off the lights, using candles at night, watching less television, and spending more time outside, my family has reduced our electric bill by 20%. Savings for me and the planet. 
  • Reuse whenever possible. Stop using plastic baggies when you pack lunches and start using reusable containers. Start bringing your own travel coffee cup to Starbucks and stop throwing away all those paper cups and plastic lids. 
  • Recycle more than just aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Start a paper bin for your junk mail, newspapers, cardboard food packaging, and egg cartons. Just place the bin next to your trash can and you will be amazed at how much you can recycle.
  • Take it a step further and sign up for a TerraCycle brigade to recycle those items that you can't recycle on your own. I promise you will find a brigade for something that you currently use in your home or office. 
  • Plan ahead when shopping and never use another plastic or paper bag again. I have at least 15 reusable bags in my trunk at all times ... and if I'm only buying one or two things I just carry them to the car. No bag needed. 
  • Reduce the amount of water you use by recycling what you can to water plants. Set timers for the kids showers and turn off the faucet when you brush your teeth.

Some of you may already do these things and others may be overwhelmed just reading the above list. Either way, just take baby steps and before you know it you will be doing all of this and more.

While this may all seem too small to make a difference, it does. Every little thing that you can do will snowball with what others do to help fight climate change and make the Earth a happier place for humans and wildlife to live.

I don't even think about it anymore - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle is a way of life for me. 

What will you do to make every day Earth Day?

Friday, April 19, 2013

California condors - Bald, Beautiful and Back from the brink of extinction

Most people associate vultures with darkness and death because that is how movies, television, and books have portrayed them for so long. Yes, they do feed on carcasses of other animals, but this doesn’t make them bad. On the contrary, vultures are a very important part of the food chain and in turn the ecosystem as a whole. Try to imagine a land filled with rotting animals carcasses … it’s not a pretty picture is it?

The California condor is in the vulture family and at one time, not too long ago, was teetering on the brink of extinction. Once widely spread throughout the western United States and Mexico, in 1982 the number of California condors dwindled down to only 22 in the wild.

Destruction of habitat played a big part in the loss of birds, but an even bigger role was played by lead poisoning. Lead bullets used for hunting were being ingested by the California condors, which resulted in lead poisoning and ultimately their demise. So once again, the carelessness of humans was to blame for another species fighting to stay alive.

In 1982, San Diego Zoo Global was given permission to start the very first captive breeding program for the California condor. At the time, this was quite controversial because eggs were being removed from the wild. Well, all controversy aside the captive breeding program was put into motion.

Just this week, three of the four original eggs that were the first to be hatched celebrated their 30th birthday at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. These three condors, Saspe, Sisquoc, and Almiyi helped form the foundation of what we know as the condor recovery program.

Dylan and I have a great appreciation for the California condor. They are powerful and majestic animals who deserve just as much love and respect as the cute and cuddly animals. On a recent visit to the San Diego Zoo, we had the opportunity to see these birds up close at their exhibit. Unlike other visits when the birds were perched high atop the branches, they were right up at the glass. As we watched them and admired the beauty of the black feathers cloaking their necks and the different shades of pink and varying degrees of baldness; we overheard some things that were not very nice. In fact, they were pretty upsetting to us.

“What ugly buzzards”


And my personal favorite … “Why would anybody want to have this at a zoo?”

Dylan having a conversation with the California condors at the San Diego Zoo

Obviously these people are uneducated and unable to see the beauty of these birds. Rather than put down the California condor for its appearance and the folklore that has given them a bad name, these people should be thankful. Thankful to San Diego Zoo Global for starting the condor breeding program. Thankful that they are able to see a California condor in real life instead of just a picture in a book listing extinct animals.

San Diego Zoo Global stated that the Safari Park has hatched over 170 chicks and released more than 80 birds in the wild. Currently there are now more than 400 condors, more than half of which are flying free in California, Arizona, and Baja California, Mexico. That is a far cry from the 22 California condors in 1982.

A prime example of how together, we can make a difference and bring a species back from the brink of extinction.

To learn more about the California condor and the condor recovery program you can visit the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy Success Stories page.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Reading for Wildlife update - An awesome journey

It has been a little over a month since the last update, but if you have been following along on Facebook or Instagram then you know that on day 66 of the I READ for Wildlife challenge Dylan reached his goal of $500 in sponsors.

This was a great day for Dylan because the hardest part was now done. He had reached his fundraising goal and from here on out all Dylan had to do was continue reading.

Now on his third and final book - the end was in sight. The goal of reading 15 pages per day increased to 20 pages per day. The boy was on a mission and there was no slowing him down.

Today is day 89 of the 100 day challenge and I am happy to report that Dylan has read all 1500 pages of fascinating animal facts.

When I asked Dylan to describe this experience in one word he said ... Awesome!

Dylan was able to combine his love of reading with his love of animals and raise $500 for endangered wildlife across the globe.

Dylan and I are so grateful that San Diego Zoo Global asked him to be part of this special team. Not only were we able to test and help improve a program that will launch to the public soon, but we made new friends and were able to share our journey with others. I truly believe that the new I _____ for Wildlife program will be a huge success.

Doing something you love has got to be one of the most rewarding ways to raise awareness and in the end raise money for a wonderful cause. Be sure to check out the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy website and start your own journey ... What will you do for wildlife?

I would like to thank everyone who supported Dylan along the way. Whether you gave money and were a sponsor or were one of the many who commented/liked his videos and fascinating animal fact updates on Facebook ... he couldn't have done it without you. Thank you!

Visit our YouTube channel to see more of Dylan's video clips from his Reading for Wildlife journey.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

A final farewell to Butterfly Jungle

We enjoyed out first visit so much that we just had to go back to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park for a second visit before butterfly jungle fluttered away until next year.

I wouldn't say our second visit was better or worse than the first, but rather different.

A whole new experience - with some new butterflies not seen before.

More butterfly pictures from our second visit are in my Butterfly Jungle Flickr album.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Saying goodbye to my childhood home was harder than I thought

Some of life's big events we are prepared for, while others take us by surprise. Not surprised like you didn't know it was going to happen, but surprised by how the event effected you. I have known that my parents were selling their house for over a year now. This was something that had been talked about over and over.

The house was on the market for almost a year with nothing. Then there was an offer - and the next words that took over the conversations were "in escrow". Everything seemed to be moving along, yet nothing had really changed. Sure, we had a few garage sales and my mom started cleaning out some closets, but the house still looked and felt the same.

The house where I grew up. Where my tree was planted. Where I was picked up for my first date. Where I spent so many holidays with family.

Anniversary parties, wedding receptions, bridal showers, baby showers, and my son's 1st birthday were all at this house.

This was the home where I lived when my son was born, the home he came home to from the hospital. The home where he learned to crawl and walk.

Grandma and Grandpa's house.

So many memories - 30 years worth - were suddenly being packed into boxes. One closet at a time. One room at a time. It was all disappearing before my eyes.

The last week of packing was like a whirlwind. So much to do and so little time. I don't think it really sank in until the final days when the moving trucks arrived.

On the final day we had one last family dinner together and reminisced about growing up in the house. So many of my favorite sunset pictures were taken from the balcony off my parents bedroom that I had to get a few more pictures.

Looking around at the empty rooms and the boxes was unreal to me. Was this really happening? I felt like I was walking in a dream. In fact, I have felt that way for about a week now. Slowly, day by day, it is sinking in that my childhood home is gone. I drive by it and nobody is there. It's just an empty house. I won't be walking through the front doors any more yelling "Hello, I'm here ... Mom, where are you?"

So here it is. My last sunset picture from the balcony of my childhood home.

I think it is ironic that the final sunset was filled with dark clouds signifying the end of something. Sadness and emptiness. So many memories in that house. So many memories.

A chapter in my life has closed and it is time to start a new chapter. New schedules, new routines, and new responsibilities. Who knows, maybe it was time for a change ... I just wasn't ready to say goodbye to the familiar life I had known for so many years.