Carolyn Jess Talks Earth Day & Arbor Day

We have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2013 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 12 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

Happy Earth and Arbor Day!  As you think of ideas to help our environment and conserve resources, here is another way to help that you may not have thought of:  Action for Apes Challenge.  Several Houston Area schools and organizations are taking part in this great service learning program by encouraging their friends and family to recycle used cell phones.  It’s important to recycle your used cell phones because they contain a mineral called coltan.  Coltan is destructively mined in the African Congo where the chimpanzees and gorilla habitats are.  If we can recycle used cell phones, cameras, and laptop computers, less of the mineral is needed from this important wildlife area.  More coltan recycled means less mining of coltan in the Congo.

You can also help by keeping your cell phone for as long as possible or even buying a refurbished phone.  If you would like to recycle your old cell phones, the Houston Zoo or area schools competing in the challenge will take them.  The school that has the most cell phones collected wins a great prize!  It is a hand painted picture by the Houston Zoo’s chimps.  Really though, everyone comes out a winner.  When we can make people aware of the need to recycle, the real challenge has been met.  You can make a difference to the chimps and gorillas in the Congo.  Recycle your old phones today.

Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Busy Fundraising for Ocelots

We have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2013 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 12 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

Operation Ocelot was busy fundraising this month.  March 3 was the day I celebrated my 12th birthday with a party at my house.  When I invited my friends, I gave them a page of information, with pictures too, about the ocelot, where it lives, and why it is an endangered species.  I also gave my friends information on what they can do to help the ocelot to survive.  One EASY way for them to help was for them to give me a donation instead of a birthday gift.   I explained that the money I collected would be sent in to Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center.  Dr. Michael Tewes, Coordinator of the Feline Research Program, uses the funds I send in to purchase the remote camera systems that are used in South Texas.  The cameras monitor the ocelots that live in the scrub land there.   I know that asking for money for the ocelots is an easy gift for people to give me.  They don’t have to ask me what I want or what size clothes I’d like.  Most parents just chose to write a check to the research center.  I think it is much easier than going out to buy a gift.

Once my friends had left my party (I had 24 friends show up), I collected $420.  I set a goal of $400 every year, and it always feels good to meet and beat that goal.  I have sent that money in to Dr. Tewes and HOPE that he makes a big discovery of an ocelot population that he didn’t know existed, but in reality, I know that probably won’t happen.  I am glad that there are people like Dr. Tewes who care about the ocelot as much as I do and want to help this animal to get off the endangered list.  My best present I could get would be for the ocelot to get off that list, but until then, I’ll keep collecting money at my birthdays and teaching as many people as I can about the ocelot.  If people know what changes need to be made to help our endangered animals, we can make a difference.

If you would like to help the ocelot, there are a few things you can do.  You could have a bake sale, garage sale, or ask for donations instead of gifts at your next party.   You could start a club at your school about endangered animals in Texas.  There are a lot of things you can do to help our animals.  You just have to try.

Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Discusses The New Year and Ocelots

We have invited Carolyn Jess back to help us out as guest blogger in 2013 with a focus on native wildlife. Jess is a 12 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

Happy New Year! I hope one of your New Year’s resolutions was to do something good for the environment!

I found out some awesome news last week from the Caesar Kleberg Journal. A group of 16 ocelots were found in the scrublands in south Texas. That makes me hopeful that we can help our ocelots to make a comeback, but we still have a lot of work to do to ensure its survival. Today, there may be less than 100 individual Ocelots remaining in Texas. We can all work together to help these animals have a chance to survive! If we don’t help them, who will?

I have a great idea for you to meet that resolution of doing something good for the environment. Why not donate your time or money to the Houston Zoo, World Wildlife Fund, or one of my favorite programs, the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M Kingsville? All three of these places work with our endangered animals and do what they can to help increase their population.

 

Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Discusses How You Can Help

Carolyn Jess is an 11 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah, who was visiting the Zoo to speak at our Conservation Gala. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

 

There are many interesting blogs on the Houston Zoo website.  Some blogs tell you about endangered species and others (like the ocelot and Texas Blind Salamander) tell you what you can do to help.  There are a few things YOU can do to help protect our species.

 

What can you do to help our animals in trouble?  Well, you are already at the first step – reading and learning about them.  YOU now can teach others about the endangered ocelot or the horned toad.  YOU can tell your friends about these animals.  YOU can tell them to visit the zoo or a State Park.  YOU can choose an animal that is threatened or endangered and raise money for the scientists who research this animal. Ask your parents or teachers to help you!  Here are some ideas you could use:

  • Have a lemonade stand (you could give the money to the SPCA)
  • Ask for money for endangered species research instead of presents for your birthday or Christmas
  • Have a garage sale and use that money for wildlife conservation programs in your area
  • Start a recycling club at your school – I did – I asked a teacher if she would sponsor it.
  • Conserve water
  • Recycle everything you can
  • Use the money from your aluminum recycling to pay for a visit to the zoo – your admission price helps the animals!

 

This is how we can protect what we care about most – OUR ANIMALS!  Conservation is the most important thing you can do!  If you have other ideas, share them on my blog.  Let’s help our endangered animals – if we don’t, who else will?

Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Discusses the Ocelot

Carolyn Jess is an 11 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah, who was visiting the Zoo to speak at our Conservation Gala. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

 

Ocelots

 

Four years ago, I first learned about an endangered animal that has become one of my favorites – the ocelot. The ocelot, which is a cat, has a beautiful coat with spots.  It is about twice the size of a normal house cat.  The ocelot lives in the low shrub lands of southTexas.  There are only about 100 ocelots left in theUnited Stateswith half of them living inTexasat the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge.  The reason why the ocelot is endangered is because their habitat is being destroyed due to housing and other developments.  People are also killing them for their beautiful pelts and some ocelots get hit by cars.

Two years ago, I traveled to the Laguna Atascosa Wildlife Refuge in hopes of spotting an ocelot.  I knew my chances of seeing one were very slim, but I hoped for a miracle that day.  Well, my miracle didn’t happen.  I did not get to see my ocelot out in the wild.  I did manage to see a stuffed one in a display case – he had been killed by a speeding car.  I was disappointed but this helped me to be even more concerned with the ocelots’ survival.

I have continued to raise funds for the endangered ocelot.  A great place that I found to send my donations to is the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Center at Texas A&M Kingsville.  Dr. Michael Tewes works directly with the ocelot and is the director of feline research.  He has used my donations to purchase camera equipment to monitor the ocelot population in Texas.  Mike really cares about the ocelot and works really hard to help these big cats have a fighting chance.

If you would like to see one of the few remaining ocelots, you can visit Novia at the Houston Zoo. She has overcome many obstacles in her life.  She is beautiful and agile and is probably one of the few live ocelots you and I will get to see.

Are you ready to help the ocelot?  If you answered yes, there are some things you can do.  First, you can visit my website:  www.ocelotrescue.webstarts.com.  This website gives facts about the ocelot and other great information like why you should help this big cat.  You could learn more about the ocelot by checking out a book from the library or searching on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.  One of the BEST ways to help is to go see Novia at the Houston Zoo and tell your friends about how close the ocelot is to disappearing forever.

Guest Blogger Carolyn Jess Discusses the Texas Blind Salamander

Carolyn Jess is an 11 year old student who has agreed to be our special guest blogger about wildlife conservation. We first met Carolyn in October 2011 when she came out to the Zoo to meet our special guest Jack Hannah, who was visiting the Zoo to speak at our Conservation Gala. If you would like to contact Carolyn or have comments, you may send them to conservation@houstonzoo.org.

Texas Blind Salamander

The Texas blind salamander is a very interesting looking creature.  He is five inches long, is whitish-pink in color, and has two leaf like red gills behind where his ears should be to help get oxygen while in the water. The salamanders’ eyes are under the skin – you can faintly see black dots where the eyes should be.

I first learned about the Texas blind salamander by reading an article about it in the Texas Parks and Wildlifemagazine.  The picture of the salamander is what caught my attention!  He was so strange looking that I wanted to learn more about him.  I learned that the Texas blind salamander lives only in the water filled caves of the Edwards Aquifer near San Marcos, Texas.  He can’t see to eat so he moves his head from side to side to find shrimp, small snails, and other invertebrates (animals without backbones) at the bottom of the cave.  The salamander is endangered because the fresh water in the caves is being overused and polluted – and the recent drought does not help either.  The total adult population size is unknown but the species is believed to be rare with the need for continued monitoring

 

I wanted to help this animal.  I searched on the internet and found lots of information.  I clicked on different links and found out the same thing over and over – it is endangered.  Then I found something interesting:  there was research going on to help the blind salamander!!  Dr. Glenn Longley, director of Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center at Texas State University was working on ways to protect this species.  Then an idea hit me like a bolt of lightning:  I needed to get the word out about the Texas Blind Salamander and collect some donations to help with the research!

 The real work was just beginning.  How would I go about collecting money?  I don’t get an allowance and I do jobs around my neighborhood, but that wouldn’t be enough.  After some thinking, I decided that I would use my next birthday party as a way for raising funds.  I would ask for money for the salamander instead of getting presents and I would teach everyone at my party about the salamander and what they could do to help.  I contacted Dr. Longley and he set up an account for my money at the research center.  My cause was put on the Edwards Aquifer website – which apparently A LOT of people in San Marcos read.  Soon, money was coming to me from all over the state of Texas!  My city’s newspaper did an article on me and then even more money came in.

 I sent informational flyers in my birthday invitations and asked my guest for money for the salamander instead of gifts. At my party, I talked to my friends about what they could do to help the Texas Blind Salamander.  Overall, I collected $600 for the research of the salamander and to help educate the public about ways they could help.

The future of the Texas Blind Salamander is still unclear.  If we conserve our water and help prevent water pollution, the salamander has a fighting chance.  Here are some things you can do to help this interesting creature:

  1. Fix any leaky faucet in your home.
  2. Turn off the water while you brush your teeth!
  3. If you must water your lawn, do it either early in the morning or at dusk.  That way the water isn’t being evaporated by the sun.
  4. Install faucets or appliances that use less water.
  5. Prevent water pollution – recycle and put your trash where it belongs!

For more information about the Texas Blind Salamander, you can read Ray Dixon’s book, Amphibians and Reptiles of Texas (W.L. Moody Jr. Natural History Series).  It has some great information for you!

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