Slithering into July with Gabe, the Rosy Boa

Slithering into July with Gabe, the Rosy Boa

Zovargo’s July Ambassador of the month is Gabe, the Rosy Boa. Gabe is very special to us and he was donated to us on August 28th, 2016. He is 7 years old and his particular subspecies is native to the San Gabriel Mountains in California! Rosy Boas are one of two native boas we have in the United States. Gabe’s coloration is absolutely beautiful, featuring a bright blush peach and sandstone white. Coloration can differ based on where the Rosy Boa lives.

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An Unlikely Super Dad

An Unlikely Super Dad

Its Father’s Day and at Zovargo we want to give a shout out to all of those amazing fathers out there. At Zovargo we have an animal ambassador who is a pretty good dad in the animal kingdom, although he may not compare to your dad who has the best jokes this animal is still an exceptional father especially for its kind. This animal is quite large and is incredibly aggressive. It would come to a surprise to know that this animal would even possess good dad qualities. This animal is none other than the African Bullfrog!

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Ready. Set. Camp Zovargo!

Ready. Set. Camp Zovargo!

There are lots of summer camp choices for children these days. When deciding what your child will do with all that free time there are so many decisions to make! How much do I want to spend? How far will I drive? Will they really enjoy it? We know this can be filled with doubt and questions. Hopefully this blog will make it easier for you if you are trying to find an ANIMAL CAMP for your kiddos this summer. 

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A True Community Partner

A True Community Partner

Once in a while you hear a story that really moves you. You may read an article on social media or watch a video that reminds you of the compassionate actions people are capable of. Sometimes those stories foster inspiration to take action, and sometimes they serve to promote warm and comforting emotions. But within the San Diego community there is an organization that embodies these stories in everything they do.

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Happy "Chico de Mayo"

Happy "Chico de Mayo"

Happy Cinco De Mayo! We’re kicking off the month of May with a very special animal ambassador: Chico.  Chico is a Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitialis) who came to us in July of 2015 after being surrendered from his previous owner. In their native habitats, these beautiful birds are found in the tropical forests of South America and especially in the countries of Brazil and Guyana.

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12 Ways to Help Save the Planet

12 Ways to Help Save the Planet

There are lots of ways to save the planet. Are we really doing them> Can we really make a difference by the little things we do each day? We sure can make a difference! Check out these 12 ideas on how we can make a change in our daily habits and make a change for the planet! At Zovargo, Earth Day is Everyday!

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Assembling into April with Hissing Cockroaches!?

Assembling into April with Hissing Cockroaches!?

Assembling into April for this month’s ambassadors are our Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches! The Madagascar Hissing Cockroach can grow up to 7.5 cm (~ 3 inches) in length as they are one of the largest cockroach species. These “hissers” are brown in color, wingless and have long antennae. They also differ from some other cockroach species in that the males possess horns! As their name suggest these insects are native in Madagascar and live in forest and other moist, tropical regions. Like 99% of all cockroach species, hissers live on forest floors, where they hide amongst the leaves, logs, and other debris. However, at night they become much more active and scavenge for meals which primarily consist of vegetables, fallen fruit and decaying organic matter which allows them to live as long as five years!

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Coming out of your Shell

Coming out of your Shell

Marching into March this month’s ambassadors are the hermit crabs! At Zovargo we recently adopted a small group of Caribbean hermit crabs just a few months ago. They all have their own personalities, much like many other animals, and we have been enjoying the opportunity to get to know them better. While we have been getting to know them better individually we have also been learning more about their species and the struggles that they face in the wild.

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Leaping into January with....Leo the Bengal Cat!

Leaping into January with....Leo the Bengal Cat!

Bengal Cats are amazing felines that can bring excitement into any home! Zovargo's rescued Bengal Cat Leo has settled into his important role as an Animal Ambassador for all his wild cousin species. Being part Asian Leopard cat, Leo has rosettes or spots that look much like his "wild" side of the family. He has the energy level of a wild cat but he thrives in the enriching world of being an educational animal ambassador at Zovargo! 

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Walk on the WILD side...with our November Ambassador!

Walk on the WILD side...with our November Ambassador!

Zovargo's November Animal Ambassador is a Walking Stick! These insects are amazing at utilizing camouflage and are great animals to have as a short-term pet or classroom animal ambassador. The Indian walking sticks are interesting to watch and easy to care for which also makes them an interesting addition for anyone looking for an easy-to-care for insect.  

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What 3 studies say about animals in the classroom

What 3 studies say about animals in the classroom

See what they are saying about animals in the classroom. Choose Zovargo for your next educational animal program. Our program is perfect for after school, girl scouts, birthday parties and much more. call fore reservations - (619) 618-0745

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Have a 'Peep' at our September Animal Ambassador!

 Peepers the European House Sparrow. Photo: Jorge Ibarra

Peepers the European House Sparrow. Photo: Jorge Ibarra

It’s a new month which means a new Animal Ambassador! The lucky one for this month is…Peepers! Peepers is our adorable European House Sparrow. She came to Zovargo in March 2015 from Project Wildlife after being raised by people for about a year. She was a relinquished bird that was given to the wildlife rescue in hopes of rehabilitation and release. However, she had already imprinted on humans which made her a poor candidate for release into the wild. We also suspect that she has a wing injury because she has some trouble getting lift when she flies, this is why she only makes appearances at super special Zovargo events that suit all of her needs.

European House Sparrows have a cool super power, and that is that they are really adaptable and have learned to live in various climates and locations throughout the world! This means even though they are European in name you can find a large abundance of these sparrows through-out the Americas. This resilient little bird first made it's way to the America's in the early 1850's. The first hundred or so birds were released in Brooklyn, NY and in the years following, they quickly spread to the Rocky Mountains and beyond! Absent from extensive woodlands, forests, grasslands, and deserts - the House Sparrow makes their way by living by living near humans. In the Americas they live near farms, and residential areas where they can easily find food such as grains, weed seeds, insects, other items left behind by people.

The oldest known House Sparrow living in the wild was...13 years, 4 months old! They truly are amazing, hardy little birds that have adapted so well to thriving across the globe. The House Sparrow is found on every continent across the globe, excluding the North and South poles.

Because of these large, wide spread populations, house sparrows are of ‘Least Concern’ as rated by the IUCN so they are not close to extinction. Changes in some countries that have moved away from raising livestock and have grown into commercial industries have impacted the sparrow's population due to the decrease in livestock grains as a food source. Competition with other nest box using species has also impacted the populations of the House Sparrow. While they are not endangered, it's still important to avoid keeping them as pets.

If you come across a baby bird or an injured bird, turn to the expert rehabilitators rather than trying to care for it yourself. Peepers was raised by people her whole life, so she doesn’t have a chance in the wild now. She helps Zovargo to educate about how important wildlife is and that all birds should belong in the wild – flying free.

References: 
IUCN: http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/103818789/0

Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BNA Database

 Peepers Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Peepers Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

 

 

 

 

 

BookWORMS - Our favorite literary Animals!

Walk in to any bookstore and it is clear to see that from children’s books to young fiction to adults – animals feature heavily. We find them in fiction, as cartoons, with the ability to speak, with superpowers and also real life stories about pets, farm animals and wildlife.

Peter Rabbit By Beatrix Potter

A 2013 study found that reading literary fiction improved empathy. This combined with the well-established links between caring for living things and having high levels of empathy suggest that when children’s early memories form around reading books featuring interesting and intelligent animals characters this can help children develop their ability to empathise.

 

 

 

This ability to relate to and care for other individuals and species is incredibly important in developing positive social relationships throughout life. Zovargo loves animals, AND the education of reading. Here are some of our favourite books featuring amazing creatures:

Marley and Me by John Grogan

Peter Rabbit (and the full Beatrix Potter set)

The Velveteen Rabbit

Watership Down

Marley and Me

A Dogs Purpose

Clifford the Big Red Dog

Where the Red Ferns Grow

Black Beauty

A street cat named Bob: And how he saved my life

Cat in the Hat

The Just So Stories

Babe: The Gallant Pig

Winne the Pooh

The Wind in the willows

The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe

His Dark Materials

Fantastic Mr. Fox

Moby Dick

Charlotte’s Web

Born Free

The Jungle Book

Water for Elephants

Zovargo believes in providing the younger generations with connections to animals. Those connections are often made through books or live animal interactions. You can find Zovargo at the San Diego Festival of Books on Saturday, August 26th! We'll be on stage at 5pm in the children's area: http://www.sdfestivalofbooks.com/schedule.html

Let us know your favorite animal characters in books and why! 

References:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/novel-finding-reading-literary-fiction-improves-empathy/

http://www.oneheartwild.org/welcome-to-our-sanctuary/education-advocacy/animals-empathy-elementary-program.html

https://www.tolerance.org/magazine/caring-for-plants-and-animals-fosters-empathy

August Amassadors - Our Uromastyx Lizards!

Our August animal ambassadors are our two Uromastyx lizards, Petrie and Little Foot! They are cousins who came into our lives in January of 2016. We searched high and low for Uromastyx (also known as ‘Uros’) which were captive bred and not wild caught. The search was difficult as the majority available in the US are caught and imported. Just as we were about to give up on the search, we found our two animal ambassadors! These little ones were captive bred by a responsible US breeder and we are so happy to give them a permanent home here at Zovargo. With any pet it is super important to ensure it is either a rescue or from a responsible breeder who can provide proof it was not wild caught. This is crucial for two reasons, firstly it is very unethical to simply take an animal from the wild as it will contribute to population disruptions and will be a very distressing change for the individual animal. Secondly, for your own safety and enjoyment the behaviour of a wild animal is likely to be more unpredictable and dangerous, which means interactions with the animal will be stressful for both owner and animal.

 Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

The name Uromastyx is derived from ancient Greek words meaning ‘tail’ and ‘whip’.  This is likely due to their distinctive large tails which they are known for whipping around when stressed or in defensive action. There are at least eighteen recognized species of Uros, and many subspecies which live across the globe, strictly north of the equator. Our Uros are the Saharan species, which as the name suggest hail from the Saharan Desert. Being from of the hottest places on the earth, these reptiles require a hot environment. They thrive in temperatures up to 130 degrees and they enjoy basking on rocks under the heat. Despite their love of hot, dry temperatures, Uros can still overheat (resulting in the behaviour of breathing with their mouths open), and will need a burrow, shady spot or cooler area of their enclosure to chill out in.

Their diet is 100% fresh spring mix salad and leafy greens. For many species of Uromastyx healthy specimens typically get all the water they need from their vegetable diet, they have special glands near their nose which excrete mineral salts to help conserve the small amounts of water they take in. However, some species drink more than others, and some life events (such as pregnancy) may lead to increased drinking requirements. Uromastyx are not an easy pet to keep, primarily due to their specific habitat requirements. Only once you have truly read up on the care they need, and understand they may live to thirty years old, and grow more than thirty inches long (in the case of the Eygyptian Uro anyway!) should you begin seeking a Uromastyx pet.

 Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Reference:
http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Care-Sheets/Uromastyx-Lizard/

Animal Amba'sss'ador of the month - Gabe our Rosy Boa!

 Gabe enjoying a slither. Photo: Jorge Iberra

Gabe enjoying a slither. Photo: Jorge Iberra

This month’s animal ambassador is our slithery snake friend, Gabe! Gabe is a rosy boa (Lichanura trivirgata) who we adopted last summer. The rosy boa species is part of the family boidae, which is a non-venomous snake family with species all over the world. One of the most famous family members is the boa constrictor which can be found in South and Central America. However here in North America there are only two native species from this family, the rubber boa and our very own – rosy boa.

The rosy boa is one of the smallest types of American non-poisonous snakes. Usually they grow anywhere between 17 and 44 inches long, and females tend to be larger than the males. It is unknown how long rosy boas can live for in the wild, but the average life span for captive rosy boas is over 20 years, however some have been documented to live for up to 50 years!

 A non rosy, rosy boa! Photo: Chris Mattison

A non rosy, rosy boa! Photo: Chris Mattison

Rosy boas are known to make excellent pets as they typically have nice temperaments and handle well. They eat a diet primarily of mice which are easy to get from exotic pet shops (and as an occasional treat they do also enjoy small lizards or geckos!). One thing to be aware of is that rosy boas can be escape artists so it is very important to have a good and secure cage! Also as with most reptiles the rosy boa also requires a carefully controlled environment with a temperature gradient ranging from 65˚F to 90˚F which adjustment based on your rosy's preferences.

Rosy boas are beautiful snakes to look at, and they also have a lot of variation in their coloration depending upon its locale/ subspecies. They are called rosy boas because many from San Diego and Baja Mexico have a rosy color on their belly – however, other rosy boas aren’t rosy at all! As you can see in the below photo, the different subspecies can even look like different snakes.

 Albino - Anerythristic - Snow Coastal Rosy Boas                                                 Photo: R.Limburg

Albino - Anerythristic - Snow Coastal Rosy Boas                                                 Photo: R.Limburg


It's important to note that Gabe is an educational animal ambassador at Zovargo and many people enjoy meeting him and learning how important in our world. Children of all ages are interested in holding and touching a snake. While he is a small/medium size snake, his docile nature makes him great for interactions. One can specially request Gabe for their school event or even their birthday party! Below are some images of Gabe interacting with some Zovargo event guests. 

 Photo: Marc Lorence

Photo: Marc Lorence

 Photo: Marc Lorence

Photo: Marc Lorence

Gabe is a subspecies from the San Gabriel Mountains in California. If you happen to stumble across one of these uniquely marked snakes, remember that you are in its home. To not disturb them, you should stay on the marked trails and leave it be. Another tip on how to keep rosy boa’s and other animals safe is to not use any poison, pesticides or rodenticides as when these enter the food chain they can be very harmful to more than just the targeted pest.  The State of California has listed the species status as “sensitive” and this is due to the negative impact from habitat fragmentation, roads and urbanization on the rosy boa populations, even inside natural reserves. This means they are stable for now but may need protection in the future.

References

http://snake-facts.weebly.com/rosy-boa.html

http://www.reptilesmagazine.com/Care-Sheets/Rosy-Boa-Care-Sheet/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/probreeders/1354389776/in/album-72157601949498570/

http://www.arkive.org/rosy-boa/charina-trivirgata/image-G28504.html

Ambassador for June: Zeta the Italian Quail

Our animal ambassador for the month of June is our little quail, Zeta! Zeta is a female Italian quail who came to Zovargo in the summer of 2016. She was donated from a friend of Zovargo and has been a great addition to the team ever since! 

 Zeta, Italian Quail Ambassador. | Photo Credit: Nancy Canty

Zeta, Italian Quail Ambassador. | Photo Credit: Nancy Canty

Zeta's story is quite interesting! She was originally suppose to hatch as a Japanese Quail. She was part of a clutch of Japanese Quail eggs yet, she popped out as little white quail which was quite the surprise to the lady raising these birds. Japanese and Italian quail are "cousins" - closely related by family line but they are not the same type of quail at all. See the image below of the Japanese Quail and compare!

 Japanese Quail. Source: http://orientalbirdimages.org

Japanese Quail. Source: http://orientalbirdimages.org

Quail’s are tiny birds who live for approximately 3-5 years. They usually spend their lives alone or in a pair with just one other quail. Quails tend to live in woodland and forest areas. They are considered to be omnivores, which means they eat plants and animals. Occasionally they eat worms and grasshoppers, but primarily they eat seeds, flowers, and fruits.

You’ll know when you hear a quail because it sounds like a cross between a duck and a rooster. They make their calling noises to alert that there’s a predator, for mating and basic communication.

If you are looking for a pet, quail’s can be a wonderful option. They are small in size and have a simple diet. There are benefits of owning a quail. They are inexpensive and easy to house and care for. If you decide to have a small group of quail, you could also get the benefit of having several eggs a day.

 Zeta | Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Zeta | Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

At Zovargo, we value all animals small and large. While Zeta may be small - she's full of personality and heart. Her super calm personality is very rare to see in quail. Her personaility makes interactions with her easy and stress-free (for educators and her).

During education programs and sharing Zeta with Zovargo program attendees, we make sure everyone knows to be careful where they might buy their quail if they are thinking of getting a quail as a pet. One can never be too careful as sometimes these birds could be raised in poor conditions. Quail do have a lot of personality and can be fun to have as a companion. It's important to do lots of reasearch on proper housing and diet before getting any new animal.

Zeta is a super special member of our ambassador team and we're so thankful to have her! She's our special June Ambassador of the Month.