Interview with an Amphibian

Recently I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Zovargo’s Ambassador of the month, Mr. Ripley.  Ripley is an Ornate Horned frog, also known as a Pacman Frog.  It was truly a pleasure to chat with this mild mannered and enthusiastic amphibian.

Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Photo Credit: Jorge Ibarra

What is a typical day like for Mr. Ripley?

My days are booked solid, for I am an extremely busy frog! I start off by claiming a corner of my enclosure and digging a nice deep hole and burying myself in substrate.  Ah, relaxing.  I keep my eyes peeled for any prey that might scamper by.  After napping for a few more hours, sometimes I get invited to go to school or be a special guest at a birthday party!  I represent all frog-kind and help teach about conservation of my wild relatives! Thankfully I don’t have to move a muscle as Zovargo does all the heavy lifting and transporting.  Once I’m home, I’ll take a nap, and wake up just in time for dinner! Once the sun goes down, my inner party animal comes out!  I enjoy chilling in my water dish and quench my thirst by absorbing water through my skin.  So refreshing! Afterwards, I half-hop back to my corner (tiny legs only take you so far) and I slip into another slumber as the sun awakens.  I’m living the dream.

What is it like working with Zovargo?

Frog-tastic! Zovargo serves me food on silver tongs and my heart leaps for joy!  I love being chauffeured to school assemblies and birthday parties.  While I’m a little too shy to participate in feeding demonstrations for the kiddos, I have no problem putting on show at home for Amanda and Larry!  I appreciate how Zovargo brings attention to the sensitivity of our skin and encourages people not to handle frogs like me for extended periods of time and shares the importance of frogs as an indicator species to help preserve my home.

Are you more of a hunter or gatherer?

Definitely a hunter! It’s in my nature! I am an ambush hunter, meaning, I wait for prey to come my way and then I attack!  How do I accomplish such a brilliant feat without exerting much effort?  I ingeniously burry myself with only my eyes popping out above ground level.  As an added bonus, I cleverly disguise myself among the dirt and moss with my bumpy green and brown skin. 

What is your favorite food?

Mr Ripley Eats Worms

Believe it or not, I can eat a whole lot! Being an ambush hunter, I prefer meals that come to me.  I like to chow down on crickets, roaches, and a variety of worms.  I’ll even indulge myself with a pinkie mouse from time to time.  I have yet to try fish, but I’m excited to try one! My favorite kind of food is anything I can get my chops around!  If it fits in my mouth, it’s not coming out! I may be passive, but I’m not too picky.

If you could be an animal what animal would you be and why?

As an amphibian, I’m able to thrive in both terrestrial and aquatic environments.  Talk about living the best of both worlds!  Sometimes I dream about being a tree frog like Mr. F and Buddy, just to see what it would be like to view the world from such a high perspective and jump 50 times my body length!  Then I remember how glorious it is being a pacman frog and the mere thought of jumping just twice my body length is exhausting.  If I had to be another animal, I think I would be an American Pigmy Shrew, who eats three times their body weight daily! Man can those guys eat!

What’s the funniest thing that happened to you recently?

I was lounging in my water dish at a school event and the kiddos were walking past my display and peering in with shinning eyes.  I locked eyes with a little girl and slowly shifted my gazes to a yummy bright pink bug holding her hair out of her face. I mustered up my strength and leaped toward her to snatch the bugger from her head and she called me a toad! A TOAD!? How absurd!

What two organization outside of Zovargo do you support the most and why?

Save The Frogs! They are the world's most effective amphibian conservation organization. I truly believe in their mission to protect amphibian populations and to promote a society that respects and appreciates nature and wildlife. They work in California, across the USA, and around the world to prevent the extinction of amphibians, and to create a better planet for humans and wildlife.

Project Wildlife does a commendable job at making sure injured wildlife is safely returned to their homes. Like Zovargo, PW provides public educational programs to promote conservation and preservation of our planet and all who inhabit it! What more could you ask for?

Tell me and our readers something about you that most people might not already know.

Well, if you haven’t noticed already, I am mostly all mouth and stomach.  To help swallow my snacks I suck my eyeballs into my head to help direct the food down my throat.  Don’t believe me? Check out Zovargo and see it with your own eyes!

Is it true that touching your skin will give people warts?

Just about as true as frog’s having extremely long tongues—which is entirely false!  Stick out your tongue and look in the mirror; frogs’ tongues are as proportional to their bodies as ours is to us.  So no, having skin to skin contact with frogs does not give you warts, but it is not recommended to handle frogs. Due to our ability to breathe and drink water through our skin, we will absorb all the natural oils on your hands, even if you wash them thoroughly! *croaks* Do frogs give you warts? Humans are so gullible. How ridiculous!

What other Zovargo Animal Ambassador is your closest friend?

The Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches! They are delicious—I mean delightful—friends to have! 



Larry Miller

Coming from a family that would go out of their way for any stray animal; the concepts of care, rescue, and rehabilitation for all animals was instilled within Larry’s core values as a young child. As a way to connect with the world and give back to the planet he is an advocate for conservation.

Larry studied Microbiology at the University of California Santa Barbara before pursuing a career in the IT field. Having held numerous Information Technology (IT) support roles throughout his profession; interacting and mentoring individuals are common daily tasks. He is also an active volunteer for multiple wildlife organizations.

When not implementing new technologies, Larry spends his free time tending to wildlife rehabilitation patients, volunteering at booth events, giving presentations, speeches and talks for various audiences. You’ll find him researching and studying in an effort to support the continuous development of new education programs. Zovargo is the ideal platform that allows him to combine his skills and devotion to conservation awareness. 

Zovargo School Animal Educational Programs, San Diego

“In the 21st century, scientific and technological innovations have become increasingly important as we face the benefits and challenges of both globalization and a knowledge-based economy. To succeed in this new information-based and highly technological society, students need to develop their capabilities in STEM to levels much beyond what was considered acceptable in the past.” (National Science Foundation)

STEM is an education curriculum encompassing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The STEM definition of Science is the study of the natural world. Technology includes any product made by humans to meet a want or need. Computers are technology, just as much as a chain link fence, or even a pencil. Any product created to solve a problem can be regarded as technology. Engineering is the design process students use to solve problems. Math is the language of numbers, shapes, and quantities. (Source:

photo credit: joge ibarra 

photo credit: joge ibarra 

Zovargo aims to raise student achievement by inspiring and preparing them to seize opportunities through innovation, inquiry, collaboration, and creative problem solving. Unique animal encounters and themed educational programs offer a blended learning environment that trigger the use of scientific method in everyday life. Zovargo Animal Education Programs San Diego encourages productive teamwork. Students are inspired to become true problem solvers, innovators, creators, and collaborators.

If you are a school, home school, informal education provider or just looking for an exciting and unique learning opportunity to bring Science to LIFE in San Diego County, then look no further! Zovargo brings science to life with the study of the natural world. Zovargo School Animal Education Programs San Diego focus on real-world issues and problems. Aligning with STEM curriculum Zovargo School Animal Education Programs San Diego encourage the engineering design process by getting students to understand and identify problems. Students are encouraged to lead the way by creating and developing ideas for a solution.  Zovargo School Animal Education Programs San Diego are immersive, engaging and hands on. We bring along several of our 'creature teacher' animal ambassadors to help make learning fun, educational, and completely interactive.

We can provide live Animal Educational Programs San Diego in a variety of settings:

  • School Assemblies (groups of 100+)
  • Individual Classrooms (any size)
  • Multiple Classrooms during a single visit! 

When: Anytime! We are flexible with your schedule! 

Where: We bring our programs and animals to YOU! 

How: Click HERE or Email us and we'll get back to you in 48 hrs! 

Cost: Our animal educational Programs San Diego cost varies per size of group and length of program. We design a package that is complimentary to most any school budget!

Photo credit: Jorge ibarra

Photo credit: Jorge ibarra


Grand Canyon - South Rim. Photo Credit: Jennifer Hayward

Grand Canyon - South Rim. Photo Credit: Jennifer Hayward

America is known for having some of the most beautiful park areas in the world. With 417 designated national parks in the country there are so many to choose from. From the huge internationally well-known ones like Yosemite, Death Valley and the Grand Canyon to lesser known gems like Acadia, Congaree and Capitol Reef there are options covering all climates, altitudes and activities.

Luckily for us, one week a year IT IS NATIONAL PARKS WEEK – that means that for this weekend (April 15th and 16th), and next weekend (22nd and 23rd) parks are open to the public for FREE! Which is a great incentive to take a weekend for camping, or just pack a bag and go for a fun day  hike. A great way to find what you are looking for is the ‘find your park’ website

Locally in California we are fortunate to have access to the most densely packed corner of parks in the US.  We have Yosemite, Joshua Tree, the Channel Islands, Death Valley, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and many, many more – perfect for a long weekends camping. These parks have amazing, well maintained hiking trails which allow fantastic access to wild flora and fauna. In Sequoia in just one day we were lucky enough to see two different types of deer, many squirrels, hundreds of interesting birds AND two black bears! Most parks also offer lead nature hikes and great information centres and well informed signs – meaning you can really make the most of your hike and learn about the wildlife.

Black Bear sighting in Sequoia! Photo credit: Jennifer Hayward

Black Bear sighting in Sequoia! Photo credit: Jennifer Hayward

However, if you can’t take the whole weekend off there is an excellent, very local opportunity - Cabrillo National Monument. Not only does it provide amazingly beautiful 360˚ views of San Diego, there is also interesting history on the light house and its inhabitants AND an awesome opportunity to go tide-pooling. The phenomenal views also mean it is worth taking your binoculars – with a huge panoramic of the Pacific Ocean, keep your eyes peeled for the Pacific Grey Whales who are currently migrating from Alaska to Mexico. Dolphins are also a common sighting and always great to see!

Cabrillo National Monument - View from the top. Photo credit: Jennifer Hayward

Cabrillo National Monument - View from the top. Photo credit: Jennifer Hayward

If you can’t make it to a National Park in the next two weekends, you can buy an annual ‘America the Beautiful’ pass for $80 per car. With 113 of the parks charging up to $30 entry, it is great value if you plan even three trips in one year. And once you have the pass – what a great excuse to go and visit even more parks!


National Parks Free Entry Days

Number of National Parks

Find Your Parks:

April is Frog Month! Meet our Frog Animal Ambassadors

This month we have THREE special ambassadors we want to introduce you to: Mr. Ripley, Buddy and Mr. Frog!


Mr. Ripley

Mr. Ripley our Pac-Man Frog - His famously beautiful patterned skin on display

This is Mr. Ripley, an Ornate Pac-Man (or Ornate Horned) frog from the genus Ceratophrys. Zovargo adopted Mr. Ripley in January of 2016 and he forms an important part of the family.

The name Pac-Man comes from the round shape of their face and their ginormous mouth, which is always ready to eat – just like in the game Pac Man! They enjoy meals of crickets, cockroaches, worms and even small mice. They have small teeth-like structures (odontoid projections) on their lower jaw which gives them power to catch and eat very large prey for their body size!  

Pac-Man frogs are available in pet stores and they are an easy to care for pet. However, they can live a really long time – up to 15 years! So if you are considering adopting one as a pet it is worth making sure you can commit to that length of time. Also, as with all frogs, their skin is highly sensitive to touch, so they are not a pet for cuddling! Pac-Man frogs like to spend a lot of their time burrowing in moist and cool substrate, like coconut or moss and this environment needs to be carefully monitored to keep the frog comfortable. As babies you can buy Pac-Man frogs when they are very small – approximately only as big as a quarter! It then takes them about a year and a half to reach their full adult size which for males is up to 4.5 inches and females up to a giant 7 inches.

Their conservation status with the IUCN is currently ‘Near threatened’, and with a significantly declining population it is important that as many people as possible learn about them and help to try and halt this declining population before they are categorized as ‘vulnerable’. In the wild they are found in Argentina (where they are rare), Brazil and Uruguay (where they have reportedly disappeared in at least two sites). As with most animals facing issues of conservation their main problem is habitat loss from human construction and agriculture. They also suffer from water and soil pollution from agriculture.

Photo from

 A Pac-Man frog showing his teeth-like projections on his lower jaw! Source:

Buddy & Mr. Frog

Buddy and Mr. F are White’s Tree Frogs, Litoria caerulea (AKA the Dumpy Tree Frog). In the wild they are found in Australia and New Guinea, but are kept as pets all over the world. In captivity, White’s tree frogs have been known to live over 20 years which is really long for a frog! Zovargo rescued these two from local owners who could no longer care for them in October 2014.

As you can tell from the name – one special thing about these frogs is that they live in trees! To maneuver through their tree-top homes, they can jump really far – 7x as far as their body length. That’s like a human jumping all the way across a whole street! Most of their jumping through the trees occurs at night as they are nocturnal - they have special large eyes which help to see in the dark and to find food (including cockroaches, crickets and worms – yum!).

You may not know that most frogs do much of their breathing through their skin. This means that their skin needs to be moist to help the oxygen be absorbed (this is why they are so sensitive to touch!!). One of the coolest things about these guys is that due to their moist skin, they naturally produce antibacterial and antiviral secretions to deal with any mold or bacteria which would normally thrive in a moist environment.  Not only does this keep them from getting sick, it has also helped us humans to research how to keep ourselves from getting sick too – understanding how the secretions work has helped with knowledge on preventing major human diseases.

The conservation status of the White’s tree frog is ‘Of least concern’ which is fantastic news – this means the species is currently doing well with no population decline. We love having Buddy and Mr. Frog with us and can’t wait for you to meet them at one of our events!

Eco-Challenge Yourself!

Earth Day is around the corner and while it's the time of year many people start thinking about how they can help reduce, reuse, and recycle - at Zovargo Earth Day is Everyday!

We are always trying to spread the message of conservation through our educational animal encounters. We work to connect people to animals and hope everyone will want to make a change in their lives to help SAVE the all animals (and their habitats). There are several ways we hope to inspire our program attendees to make a change. They may consider: 

  • Becoming a better pet owner by really thinking new pet decisions through
  • Adopting their new companion animal rather than going to a pet store
  • Recycling items rather than throwing them away
  • Reducing their consumption of items that are not bio-degradable or reusable 
  • Choosing to use recycled items rather than items made from the original source
  • Giving their time to organizations that support conservation
  • Considering the type/source of items they purchase before buying (i.e. buying recycled paper)



One thing we do everyday is EAT, right?

"Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?" #zovargogreen

"Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks?" #zovargogreen

Many of us are so busy and don't have time to cook every meal. It's a true and difficult fact that many are consumers of food on-the-go. One thing to consider is HOW we eat on-the-go. Quick meals have a huge impact on our green footprint. Did you know that some plastic takes up to 1000 years to break down? Did you know that it never really disappears but becomes micro-plastic? Our consumption of straws alone is unimaginable.

To help make an end to our wasteful habits of on-the-go dinning, we want to help eliminate plastic and reduce the amount of trashed plastic straws, to-go containers, and plastic cutlery that ends up in landfills.

This April, Zovargo is challenging our friends, followers, and their families to take this eco-challenge and try to be more earth-minded. Let us know what you actively do to be "green" and SHOW US by posting a picture to your own social media page and tagging (@zovargo) Zovargo along with using our hashtag #ZovarGoGreen. Pictured to the left is our own Educator, Marissa showing us how she is earth-minded. 

Entering the contest will put your name in the drawing for a ZOVARGO ECO-STARTER PACK! We will be running this competition via Facebook the week of April 10th (1 Eco-pack winner) and Instagram the week of April 17th (1 Eco-pack winner). During the San Diego Science Educators Conference on April 29th, we'll be giving attendees at the conference a chance to enter a drawing for our final Eco-pack. 

Zovargo Eco-Starter Pack 

Zovargo Eco-Starter Pack 

This Eco-Starter Pack ($45 Value) Contains:

  • 100% Recycled Cotton Zovargo Lunch Bag
  • Reusable Bamboo To-Go Ware packs with a case that is made from recycled plastic bottles
  • A Snack Time pack with Fabric made from 100% Recycled plastic  
  • A Bottle Sling made from rePete, 100% post-consumer recycled plastic bottles
  • Not pictured but included: a reusable Stainless Steel straw and some Recyclable Paper straws (Use both and see which one you like best) 

We'd like to thank our sponsors and partners supporting this challenge!

Big Frog T-shirts in Claremont for printing our bags with non-toxic plant-based ink! 

Aardvark paper straws for partnering with Zovargo to make a difference in the way we drink! 

Private donations from our Supporters 

Summer Camp San Diego!

New friends, discoveries, and cool creatures make for an awesome summer camp experience! Camp Zovargo is coming up this July! For just one week out of the year, Zovargo educators take time away from regular education programming to offer children in San Diego County a chance to discover animals in a new way! This animal summer camp is full of up-close opportunities for campers to interact and learn about many different species of animals. 

Interactive activities fill the day along with nature exploration, animal themed games, and even a little science that will get their hands dirty! We DIVE into animal topics and discover what makes reptile eggs different from bird eggs, why scientists care so much about amphibians, and what really makes birds fly. 

Nature exploration and Team building - Credit: Jorge Ibarra 

Nature exploration and Team building - Credit: Jorge Ibarra 

Campers get to meet all of the nearly 20 animal ambassadors during this week of camp. From leaping frogs to grazing llamas - Camp Zovargo has an animal that will win the heart of most any child. Our animal interactions don't just stop at Zovargo's animals either - one day during camp, we're visiting our camp partner organization - Carlsbad Art Farm. At this location, campers will get to meet and interact with Art Farm's unique and gentle farm friends. 

Connecting children with animals and nature is a core value at Zovargo and is stitched through every day at camp. Camp counselors will take camp "explorers" on excursions looking for rare insects, birds, and mammals. During each day at camp, we'll have time to get outside and explore! Also while at the Art Farm, we'll trek into the private wooded areas of their property to uncover new wild creatures and identify animal tracks. 

Join us for an unforgettable week of fun this July 24-28, 2017! Due to the nature of our camp, we are limited in the number of spots we have available, so get your child registered soon



Lionhead bunny - Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Lionhead bunny - Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Campers meeting rescued pig - Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Campers meeting rescued pig - Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Ambassador of the Month: Dimitri, our Panther Chameleon!

Dimitri is our beautiful adult Panther Chameleon (Furcifer pardalis), one of the largest Chameleon species in the world (with males reaching up to 23cm). He is around 2 and half years old and may live as long as 7 years! We brought Dimitri into our team in 2015, from a local breeder. As he is captive bred a lot is known about his family blood line, and they are well known for being relaxed and easy going – perfect for a Zovargo animal ambassador! You might meet him at one of our many Zovargo education programs or even at our upcoming Summer Camp - CAMP ZOVARGO

DIMITRI. Credit: Jorge Ibarra

DIMITRI. Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Dimitri’s family are captive bred, but wild Panther Chameleons are from Madagascar where they are a hybrid of two types of chamelon – the Ambanja and Sambava chameleons.

Chameleons are primarily known for their ability to change color – often thought to be as a form of camouflage. However, the real reason for their color change is actually mood and temperature! Dimitri can subtly change color about once a minute, this is particularly obvious when he is experiencing some stress, i.e. too cold or hot, frustrated, or scared.



Another important use of color in Panther Chameleon’s is that their color can tell you where they are from in Madagascar. Their coloration can be so different that 21 ‘types’ of Panther Chameleons have been defined. For example, Panther Chameleons from the area of Nosy Be have bright blue coloration , while other areas produce types colored red, green and orange.



Chameleons are also known for their long tongues! Dimitri’s tongue is so long, it is actually 2 x as long as his whole body and he can rapidly extend it when he is hungry! Dimitri loves to eat crickets, cockroaches and worms.

Do chameleons make good pets? It is important to note that Chameleons can be difficult to care for. Firstly, they need specialized equipment and food. Like all other chameleons, Dimitri is cold blooded. Thus, he is unable to maintain a healthy body temperature without an external heat source. It is therefore important to make sure his environment is always a comfortable temperature for him. Specifically, Dimitri likes to be kept at 85˚F with 60% humidity. It is also worth considering that they are not a pet that you can cuddle! Great for observations, but if you want a more hands on pet, a Chameleon isn’t the answer. Furthermore, you must be really careful to find out where they come from. Rescuing a Chameleon from a previous owner or a shelter is a fantastic thing to do, but if it has been caught from the wild this will support the pet trade which has terrible consequences. 

Credit: Jorge Ibarra

Credit: Jorge Ibarra



Andreone, F.; Guarino, F. M.; Randrianirina, J. E. (2005). "Life history traits, age profile, and conservation of the panther chameleon, Furcifer pardalis (Cuvier 1829), at Nosy Be, NW Madagascar" (PDF). Tropical Zoology. 18



Zovargo Eco-News: The Impact of Plastic Waste on Sea Turtles

This article was written for everyone's enjoyment. We aim to educate all generations about animal conservation and environmental protection any chance we get, so please share this with others.  We suggest while you're waiting in line for something, during dinner, or before bed! 

On November 8, 2016, Proposition 67, a referendum asking voters to either vote yes to preserve the law or no to reject the plastic bag ban, was approved by 52% of the voters. (Source: LA TImes)

On November 8, 2016, Proposition 67, a referendum asking voters to either vote yes to preserve the law or no to reject the plastic bag ban, was approved by 52% of the voters. (Source: LA TImes)

Plastic bags are a huge problem, not just for the environment but for the sea turtle population as well. Sea Turtles love to snack on jellyfish, which are also appear white, semi-translucent, and amorphous (lacking form). It’s astonishing how similar a plastic bag and a jellyfish look in water, even to the human eye. The picture below shows a jar of jellyfish and a jar with a plastic bag, can you tell the difference? Like all animals, sea turtles weren’t made to eat plastic so a bag can get trapped in the digestive systems, causing death. A plastic 6-pack ring can also cause life-long deformities if they get caught in them; cutting your 6 pack rings before you throw them away can help prevent entanglement.

A Plastic Bag in a Jar (left) and 3 Jellyfish in a Jar (right).  Can You Tell the Difference?(Source: One Green Planet)

A Plastic Bag in a Jar (left) and 3 Jellyfish in a Jar (right).  Can You Tell the Difference?(Source: One Green Planet)

According to National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, there is an estimated 100 million tons of plastic in the ocean worldwide currently killing 100,000 marine mammals, sea turtles, birds, and fish annually (Source: Hopefully, the ban on single-use plastic bags will reduce the amount of plastic bags that eventually end up in the ocean.

The video below shows a team of snorkelers rescuing a sea turtle, which has a straw stuck in its nostril. The team thinks it’s some sort of worm at first but to their dismay, they were wrong. The video is graphic as the turtle begins to bleed but it is an example of plastic’s effect on our environment. You might not want to show it to your child.

Half of the sea turtles in the world have eaten plastic, according to a new study by Qamar Schuyler of the University of Queensland. His research led him to conclude that approximately 52% of the world’s sea turtles have eaten some sort of plastic debris in their lifetime. (Source: Washington Post)

The problem with plastic is that it doesn’t break down or decompose naturally. Plastic’s inability to break down means it will stay in nature for hundreds of years, creating harmful problems for unsuspecting animals. The best thing you can do is decrease your plastic consumption or plastic footprint, omitting unfortunate opportunities for your trash to hurt an animal.

A Sea Turtle Trapped in Several Plastic Bags (Source: Daily Mail)

A Sea Turtle Trapped in Several Plastic Bags (Source: Daily Mail)

There is a clear and distinctive problem at hand and solving the problem begins with us. Doing your part has a tremendous impact on the world. We at Zovargo will do our part by creating Zovargo reusable totes and other products that will help you reduce your plastic footprint.  Not only will you help save the environment but you will save money at the same time!

Some other ways you can reduce the amount of plastic waste produced is by using reusable products such as reusable bottles, cups, reusable cutlery, metal straws, and of course, reusable bags. Every little bit counts and saving the environment starts with you. Don’t forget that this is your planet, your ocean, and your forests; you are the future for a sustainable earth.

Can you think of any other ways we can decrease our plastic footprint? Let us know in the comment section!

An Inforgraphic About Plastic Bags and the Environment (Source:

An Inforgraphic About Plastic Bags and the Environment (Source:

Girl Scouts and Zovargo - The Perfect Pair!

Here at Zovargo, we LOVE working with the girl scouts of San Diego – we can (and have!) conducted sessions with all ages, from Daisies to Seniors! While we can adapt our presentation to any topic your group is interested in learning about, we have also developed specific programs for a huge variety of badges and projects already tried and tested with success. In 2016 alone, we did 31 Girl Scout events!

Why does Zovargo work so well with Girl Scouts?

The Girl Scouts mission is to build “girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place”. And this ties in perfectly with the themes and values Zovargo holds dear, and wants to share with the community.  Zovargo’s key values are centered around loving and respecting all animals, being genuine and honest, self-improvement and being an active steward in protecting our environment. As we are an approved community partner with the Girl Scouts of San Diego we can apply our awesome values to many relevant Girl Scout badges and projects.  So, in addition to covering anything related to animals (pets to wildlife and everything in between) we have also covered badges such as: inventor, home scientist, public speaking and entrepreneur. The possibilities are almost endless!

Another reason we are a great partner is that we are truly flexible at Zovargo – we can come anywhere in San Diego at practically any time convenient to you and your group. We understand that organizing fun and engaging meetings takes a lot of work. By being flexible, dependable and creative we help to minimize the effort in organizing a session with us, leaving you the fun and memorable activities on the day to enjoy.

Lastly, our events for Girl Scouts are priced very affordably. This is simply because we really do love working with the organization and engaging with so many ambitious and creative groups. So, if you help run a Girl Scout unit, are a GS parent or even a Scout yourself please get in touch to discuss how we can help make your next GS program super engaging and fun!

Click here to see more information and to use our request form.


7 Really Good Reasons You Have To Attend The San Diego Bird Festival

Discover something new with Zovargo!  We are honored to partner with The Audubon Society to help throw their San Diego Bird Festival at Marina Village Conference Center, Mission Bay, San Diego, CA, on February 26, 2017! 

You know that saying, "Birds of a feather, flock together"?  Well, it's true!  This idiom means that people who have similar interests and tastes will be found together.  What is our common interest? The answer might not surprise you, it's BIRDS!!  We are bird advocates and want to share our love of birds with everyone, especially you.  The Zovargo flock has partnered with The Audubon Society to throw the biggest bird festivals in San Diego, The San Diego Bird Festival at the Marina Village Conference Center in Mission Bay, San Diego, on Family Day, February 26, 2017.  There will be hundreds of different creatures from parrots and reptiles to owls and scorpion and more.  Best of all, Family Day is FREE!!  

Family Day Flyer.  (Source: San Diego Bird Festival)

7 Really Good Reasons You Have To Attend The San Diego Bird Festival:

1. Zovargo: We've been planning this for months and have a lot of cool and interactive activities for you!  Baby Bird, Peepers, Zeta and the rest of the flock will be attending, giving you some great photo opportunities.  Have any questions? We'll try our best to fill you in on anything related to birds!

2. Birds:  There will be so many birds varying from hawks, sparrows, woodpeckers and much much more!  if you love birds, you have to come see the variety at The San Diego Bird Festival!.

3. Field Trips: There will be plenty of field trips that cover every corner of San Diego on diverse topics.  Some of the field trips include but are not limited to, the Anza-Borrego Desert Trip with expert bird watchers, Parrots at their Roost: Morning Edition I, Laguna and Cuyamaca Mountains Trip, and more! Some are free, some have a fee, and some even come with a meal but ALL of them are going to be super fun and memorable.

4. Workshops: Ready for some hands-on experiences? There will a wide variety of workshops that will teach you anything about birds and let you handle them too.  Want to play in nature or explore local habitats? There will be several workshops that will take you to some of the coolest locations in San Diego.  There's going to be something for everyone!

5. Games and Activities: Games, contests, prizes, arts and crafts, face painting, nature walks, bird watching, giveaways, music and more!  It's going to be hours of fun; there will be so many games and activities that you won't be able to play in all of them, so choose wisely!

6. Bird Experts: Have a question about birds? This is your opportunity to ask an expert.  There will be a ton of bird experts that will share valuable information and teach you anything you want to learn about birds.  

7. Food: San Diego is known for its food and craft beer selection, so it's fitting that there will be a variety of each every night!  Some will be free, others will cost money, and some will be $1.

Adventure, discover, and explore! The San Diego Bird Festival will have everything you can think of about birds plus more.  With hundreds of birds, hands-on activities, field trips, workshops, activities, games, food, beer, wine, and much more, do you really need another reason to go?  If you love birds, YOU HAVE TO COME! It's going to be AWESOME!  Check out the Audubon Society's website for more details: San Diego Bird Festival.  We'll see you there!

A Field Trip with a Bird Expert. (Source: San Diego Bird Festival Facebook Page)

A Field Trip with a Bird Expert. (Source: San Diego Bird Festival Facebook Page)

Zovargo Partners with Award-Winning Carlsbad Art Farm!

Carlsbad Art Farm is a privately operated 10-acre outdoor art instruction facility in north coastal San Diego County offering classes, workshops, school field trips and award-winning summer camps. Art Farm's mission is to inspire and encourage a deep connection to animals and the natural world through traditional studio art education.

Situated in a hidden valley near the Village of Carlsbad, Art Farm offers visual arts instruction centered on animal life and explorations of their unique woodland habitat. Art Farm was voted "Most Awesome Camp for Kids in Southern California" in 2014, 2015, and 2016. Zovargo and Carlsbad Art Farm Farm are excited to partner this summer, offering local students a unique opportunity to connect to animals, art and nature.


Read More about all our Zovargo partners here:

A Birds Eye View of Valentine's Day

Shops are currently filled with heart shaped chocolates, stuffed toys that say "I wuv you" and bouquets of flowers, encouraging us to shower our significant other with gifts in an annual declaration of love and appreciation. Whether you are going all out with extravagant plans, or not you will definitely be aware that it's Valentine's Day! However, humans are not the only species that have evolved special courtship behaviors to woo a partner - from gift giving, to dazzling dances, birds all over the world have developed elaborate tactics to compete for the affection of someone special. Here are some of the more interesting displays that we think you might enjoy (and who knows, maybe to pick up some tips for your February 14th plans...!)

Great Hornbills

Just looking at a Great Hornbill with its large, brightly colored casque (the protuberance above the bill) it is an easy assumption to make that this display is important for attracting a mate. However, the most identified mechanism used in the breeding season is a little more romantic – they sing!

The males become very vocal – making a loud and repetitive “kok” sound. If interested, the female then begins to join in, forming a rauchous duet with the male. To keep the romance alive, the male makes gifts of food to the female which continues throughout her nesting period.

Adelie penguins

Adeline penguins have quite a practical way of wooing their future beloved… alongside some head bobbing and wing flapping, they also make a more practical contribution– the gift of rocks to build, elevate and secure the nest. Some accounts show the penguins can be very choosy about what pebbles they bring to the female; scouring a whole beach to find very special ones. More commonly observed though is when males resort to stealing from other nests or just picking up the nearest rock available - slightly less romantic than the idea of a long search for the 'perfect pebble'...

Bower birds

Bower birds are a family of 20 species which are well known for their ability to build intricate and decorated constructions (called Bowers) to try and attract a mate.

They use decorations that nature has to offer like sticks, feathers and shells, but will also use anything brightly colored that they can find. It areas close to humans this can mean anything from scraps of plastic bags to discarded toys or cardboard. Males will also often be sneaky and sabotage their competition's Bowers - making their own efforts look more impressive and to steal some extra decorations.

The Superb Fairywren

The superb fairywren is a small bird from Australia which is socially monogamous, but also seeks extra pairing matings. It is when this occurs they use a special beautiful gift – a flower petal. It seems that sometimes this is given to the female directly to woo her, and other times given to a more dominant male to avoid any confrontation and to recognize his superiority and rights to the female in question. We would probably stick to the traditional whole flowers/ bouquets if you have a human Valentine - the single petal might not quite cut it..

Love Birds

Last but not least, we have the aptly named: Love Birds. A term commonly used to describe a loved up couple, it actually is the name of a group of birds (9 species within the genus Agapornis) known for their monogamous relationships and romantic courtships. 

Love birds have such close relationships, they sit very closely together, they feed each other, and seem to become depressed if separated and almost constantly preen each other. It is also believed by some that the poem "Parliament of Foules" by Chaucer is about Love Birds. As this is one of the first known connections between St. Valentine and romance, this could mean that these little birds are the reason we celebrate love on February 14th at all! 




Diamond, J. (1987), Bower Building and Decoration by the Bowerbird Amblyornis inornatus. Ethology, 74: 177–204. doi:10.1111/j.1439-0310.1987.tb00932.x

KL. Bauman, CA. ASA (2015) Reproductive behavior of the great hornbill (Buceros bicornis). Zoo Biology

McKee, M (2005).   “Mating In A Material World.” National Wildlife

Rowley, I.,  Russell, E. (1997). Bird Families of the World:Fairy-wrens and Grasswrens. Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University PressISBN 0-19-854690-4.


Animal Ambassadors for February: Our Parrots!

This month, our Zovargo animal ambassadors are our beautiful parrots: Baby Bird and Chico!

Baby Bird (left) and Chico (right) being fantastic ambassadors at a Zovargo Girl Scouts event

Baby Bird (left) and Chico (right) being fantastic ambassadors at a Zovargo Girl Scouts event

Red-Crowned Amazon: Baby Bird!

Baby Bird our Red-Crowned Amazon (so named for her beautiful Red crown feathers)

Baby Bird our Red-Crowned Amazon (so named for her beautiful Red crown feathers)

Firstly Baby Bird, she is our Red-crowned Amazon Parrot (Amazona viridigenalis) and she comes to lots of events with us so you may well have already met her! Red-crowned Amazons are primarily found in the wild in North Eastern Mexico, however there are some more, growing populations in Texas, Florida and California. Right here in San Diego County you can find a small population in Point Loma! It is well worth taking a trip to go and spot some of Baby Bird’s wild relatives up in the palm trees.

Baby Bird used to live in Point Loma in the wild as a baby, but was not strong enough to grow and survive with her flock. She was rescued by a local wild parrot group who fed and cared for her until she was back in good health. At this point she was so used to being around humans, it was decided she couldn’t be safely released, so instead became an education ambassador – going to events with Zovargo to teach the community about parrots.

Baby loves to meet people, climb on their arms and will sometimes even talk (she likes to say her name and to imitate noises!) however she does like her personal space and doesn’t like being stroked too much. She likes to eat a lot of fresh vegetables and fruit and extra vitamins to keep her healthy. As a treat, she will eat seeds and nuts which she finds just delicious.

When she is feeling good, Baby Bird sometimes bows her head down to receive a head scratch!

When she is feeling good, Baby Bird sometimes bows her head down to receive a head scratch!

Sadly, Red-crowned Amazons are officially endangered. This means their population sizes are decreasing to the point where the species is in trouble. Currently wild native populations (in Mexico) are not estimated to exceed 2,000 mature individuals which is incredibly low considering in 1950 it was 100,000 strong (according to a Bird Life International study). The reason for this decline is thought to be due to many birds being trapped and transported from Mexico to the USA for the pet trade. Habitat loss is another cause for the decline.

So do they make good pets? Yes and no. Firstly, as these birds are endangered – you should never buy one as contributing to the pet trade will only act as a further stressor on the wild population. However, occasionally parrots are rescued either from breeders or injured from the wild (like Baby Bird was), in these special cases they can make a wonderful and engaging pet. But it is always worth remembering that adopting a parrot is no small task - These parrots can live for up to 60 years if they have great nutrition and health so it truly is a life-long commitment.

Reference: BirdLife International. (2013). Amazona viridigenalis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2013: e.T22686259A48048745 doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2013-2.RLTS.T22686259A48048745.en Downloaded on 10 February 2017

Sun Conure: Chico!

Chico the Sun Conure

Chico the Sun Conure

Our Sun Conure (Aratinga solstitialis), who goes by the name Chico, is a young parrot around the age of 3. Chico loves being in human company and likes to be gently pet low down on his back, but can be a little overwhelmed if there are loud noises or very busy areas. He sometimes speaks too, saying ‘Chico’ and ‘no’!

Sun Conures are quite a small species of parrot -  typically around 12 inches long. They are native to South America (largely Guyana and Brazil) and they are known for their beautiful coloration and excitable personalities.  When the birds are young they are primarily green, as they mature they develop their beautiful yellow and orange colors – which give them their sunny name.

Currently it is believed that numbers in captivity are larger than the wild population. This has resulted in IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) classifying the Sun Conures as Endangered. Similarly, to the Red-crowned Amazon, this unfortunate situation is ascribed to historic wild trappings for the pet trade and habitat loss.  

Do they make good pets? Like other parrots they have a relatively long life span (up to thirty years!), so it is a big decision to adopt a Sun Conure. Also, as they are very intelligent birds who love human attention they cannot be left alone for too long. They need social interactions and mental stimulation every single day. One thing also worth considering is they can be very noisy, often known for ‘screaming’ when excited or scared. Many owners are not aware of this trait when they buy or adopt their new pet, and the disruption causes them to give it up a few months later which can be very distressing to the Conure. But if you have the time, space and commitment to owning a Sun Conure, then adopting a rescue can be a fantastic thing to do. 

Ref: BirdLife International (2016)  Aratinga solstitialis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T62233372A95192947. Downloaded on 10 February 2017.

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Chico at an event!

How To Throw The Perfect Animal Themed Party

The Zovargo Team introduces themselves to several children at a birthday party. (2016)

Your animal loving child wants an animal themed birthday party with all the bells and whistles. Planning any birthday party can be a challenge, especially with a tight budget. Trust us, we know. We’ve thrown a ton of parties and we’d like to consider ourselves experts. We picked out a couple of our favorite ideas and would love to share them with you!

Planning and Preparation

Below is an outline of what we need and what we’ll be discussing:

  1. Entertainment
  2. Decorations
  3. Activities/games
  4. Invitations
  5. Food
  6. Pep Talk

1. Entertainment

The Zovargo Team educates several children about animal conservation during a birthday party (2016).

Entertainment needs to be memorable, unique, and fun. Interaction with exotic animals is a plus and having an awesome picture with them is will definitely help you remember the moment. They provide fun and creative animal education programs with live animal creature teachers! Determined to touch the heart and inspire the mind; Zovargo animal programs provide an authentic experience to see, touch, hear, and experience animals!  Zovargo will help you plan and throw a party like no other, bringing “The Zoo to You”. They also have a ton of fun activities and games the kids can join in on that enhance their animal experience. Here are a few of their all-star animals:

Yes, Zovargo allows your child to take awesome, once in a lifetime photos with the animal ambassadors.  You can’t do that at the zoo!

Another great benefit about Zovargo is that they supply party favors.  So you can cross that off your To-Do List if you book Zovargo for your birthday. They have perfect animal themed party favors which are crafted by the guests at the event. Children at the party create animal crafts from various items such as pipe-cleaners. This let's the creative side come out and gives the children some extra to do and a special memento from the big day. Below are some of these awesome animal crafts! We bring all the supplies and this added fun! Check out this page for more details. 


You can book Zovargo here

2. Decorations

The coolest animal garland we found at BecauseofBrenna on Etsy

The coolest animal garland we found at BecauseofBrenna on Etsy

You’ll definitely need animal themed decorations such as napkins, plates, cups, streamers, garland, etc.  We suggest reusable, recyclable, or nonplastic products such as the ones below:

  1. Animal Napkins
  2. Animal Paper Plates
  3. Animal Paper Cups
  4. Paper Streamers
  5. Animal Garland
  6. Animal Party Pack This options includes everything from napkins, plates, table clothes, and cups.
  7. Animal Party Park II A second option party pack we thought was cool

A great place to get eco-friendly party supplies is EcoPartyTime, they’re limited on animal decorations but they’re still great.

Cutting down on plastic supplies can be easier if you incorporate finger food such as chicken stripes, pigs in a blanket, cupcakes or ice cream cone but we will get into food ideas later.  

3. Activities

Birthday party goers wear animal costumes and enact some of the local animals in San Diego.

  • Animal Masks and costumes
  • Movies with animals: Homeward Bound, The Lion King, Finding Nemo, The Jungle book, Jumangee, Etc…
  • Animal stickers
  • Photobooth with animals
  • Animal themed games
  • Animal Jumpy House
  • Animal Relay Race
    • Bear Crawl Race
    • Frog Jump
    • Cheetah Sprint
    • Crab Walk
  • Animal Charades
  • Pin the Tail on the Donkey
  • Who Am I? – Write an animal on several pieces of cards.  Each child is given an animal card without them knowing which animal they are.  They stick the animal card on their forehead and they have to figure out which animal they are by asking “yes and no questions” only.
  • Animal Buddies – Each child is given an animal.  There is a pair of animal per animal. So, for example, 2 cats, 2 elephants, 2 giraffes, 2 kangaroos.  By asking yes or no questions, the kids have to find their matching animal partner.  When time is expired, kids sit next to the person they think is their animal buddy.
  • Camouflage Conundrum
    • Animals need to be able to camouflage into their environment in order to avoid predators and survive in the wild.  Larry forgot to lock up the animals and they escaped!  Help him find them – stuffed animals are scattered and hidden around the event before hand.  Whoever helps Larry find the most animals before Amanda finds out, wins! Sort of like an Easter Egg hunt.

4. Invitations

This animal themed card by Nifty Printables at Etsy is a perfect invitation for your guests!

This animal themed card by Nifty Printables at Etsy is a perfect invitation for your guests!

We think invitations should be creative and unique.  We have two options here, print or digital.

  1. Printed invitations should have animals on them with a clever greeting inside.
  2. Digital invitations are easier and more affordable.  Gather emails and find or create your own invitation.  Here’s a link to an example of a digital invitation from Etsy. Click Here

A great place to get eco-friendly animal themed birthday invitations is Tiny Prints.

5. Food

Clothes Pin Butterly Snacks

Clothes Pin Butterly Snacks

Animal-themed food is the extra kick to make your party extra animal.  Here are a few of our favorites:

Strawberry Shortcake Snake

Strawberry Shortcake Snake

For you extra festival animal lovers that want to take it an extra step, here are a couple of more ideas:

6. Pep Talk

Your party planning stress should be a little lower since you have a plan now.  All of these great ideas are right here at your fingertips and they’ve been tested and proven successful! We know you have what it takes to through the best animal themed party every! All the while, saving money and helping the environment at the same time! And who knows, maybe you’ll learn a thing or two from Zovargo!

Interview with Leo! Our January Animal Ambassador

Leo looking very majestic and photogenic

Leo looking very majestic and photogenic

We caught up with our Zovargo Animal Ambassador of the Month, Leo, to ask him a few questions. He was gracious enough to take time out of his busy schedule of events and we had a great time getting to know him – Thanks Leo!


Hi Leo! Firstly, what’s your favorite thing to do in the day?

I have the daunting task of protecting the food and favorite cat nap spots around the house. I keep a watch out for any escaped crickets and make sure the birds all behave by watching them closely.

What’s your favorite food?

One food which really makes me feel wild is Olives. I just love them! The humans also have this thing called "catnip." As far as I can recall I've never experienced this, but I would love to try it one day.

Where is your favorite hiding spot?

I like to make my presence known and don't prefer to hide. I keep watch on things high atop the cat tree.

What makes you excited and happy?

Meeting new people and going to new places. Also when I am at home I can't resist playing with straws.

Are you afraid of anything?

When I'm out exploring the world with my humans, large metal beasts that the humans call ‘cars’ are the scariest.

 Where do your wild relatives live?

I've been told my wild cousins live in the jungles of Asia.

 What makes you interesting?

Firstly, I am one of the "favorite" animal ambassadors at Zovargo. I believe this is because of my luxurious fur. We Bengals’ can sometimes inherit a gene called the ‘glitter gene’ from our parents, this makes our fur look like it is sparkling in the sunshine. I like to think I have this particular attribute as I really am beautiful. But even if I don’t sparkle as brightly as some of my cousins do, I am really soft.

If you could have a pet yourself, what would you choose?

I like to work alone, but I like my pet humans- they clean up for me and regularly give me treats which is a bonus!

 What’s your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest achievement is making my way out of my dirty, lonely, cage I lived in before I was adopted by my new family. I now have the nicest buddy named Larry who scratches my head and gives me lots of cat hugs. I also have lots of other friends who let me show them around new neighborhoods, schools, and backyards.

 Do you make a good pet and why?

I wouldn't call myself a pet. I appreciate my humans but I'm not your average pet...

 What do you look for in a human owner?

1) Understanding my meows,

2) Following me on long walks,

3) Protecting me from strange metal beasts and over-curious large dogs,

4) Remembering I'm number 1. No new animals, please.

Zovargo Animal Ambassador of the Month: Leo

Leo is a Bengal Cat that Zovargo rescued from a nonprofit rescue in Los Angeles

This is Leo, he's a Bengal Cat.  Bengal cats are wild cat/domestic cat hybrids and derive from Asian Leopard Cats.   Bengal Cat's get their name from the Asian Leopard Cat's taxonomic name, Prionailurus bengalensis.   In 1963, a cat breeder name, Jean Mill, purchased an Asian Leopard Cat and bred her with a domestic male cat.  She loved the wild features of the Asian Leopard Cat and wanted one that behaved like a normal domesticated cat.  Asian Leopard Cats weigh about 8-10lbs.  On average, Bengal Cats weigh about 15lbs. and have spots, rosettes, and a light belly.  Below are 6 different Bengal Cat coats:


Bengal Cats are different than normal cats, they love water and are known to play with it.  It must be the wildcat in them!  

Two Bengal Cats enjoying a swim. (Source:

Two Bengal Cats enjoying a swim. (Source:

Bengal Cats are highly active and intelligent felines, they need to be entertained and mentally stimulated.  If you have a Bengal Cat, make sure to have enough toys and games for their enjoyment.  Basic toys aren't going to cut it, they're too smart and need challenging toys to combat with boredom.   The best part, Bengal Cats are so smart, you can teach them to do tricks!

Leo shows off his beautiful fur coat as he poses for the camera

Bengal Cats can jump up to 7 times their height or over 10 feet high!

Bengal Cats are often seen on walks with a leash.  No, they aren't dogs but they can also learn to play fetch. 

Leo is enjoying a nice walk outside on his leash.

Kind, playful, and pretty, Leo is one of Zovargo's favorite ambassadors.  He's a huge hit at parties and loves getting petted softly.  If you haven't met Leo, you are missing out on San Diego's coolest cat! 

Zovargo at the STEAM Maker Festival

In December, 2016 we participated in one of our favorite events of the year - The STEAM Maker Festival! This is our third time participating in this festival, and we enjoy watching it grow each time! As part of this festival we support the SCIENCE part of STEAM Education. Many science teachers are looking for ways to bring their subjects to life and we do just that! Our animal educational programs San Diego are just what many teachers are looking for. 

We also supported this festival for a second time by hosting the Backyard Safari Challenge. In this challenge, students age K-4 went out and collected, cataloged, and presented their BUG findings to local entomologists. We had some great presentations that were so creative! Take a look at some of the pictures from the presentations below! 

The winners of this challenge were selected because of their creativity and vast knowledge about the insects they discovered! It's important in this challenge that students found a variety of bugs and also knew about what they discovered. All important components for the judges who had a very challenging role trying to name the winners! 

There were lots of other fun things happening at the festival including a Recycled Fashion Challenge and Robotics Challenge! We also had many visitors throughout the day that enjoyed meeting our animals and interacting with our bug "Petting Zoo" and games! 

Zovargo is so passionate about reaching children of all ages and helping to inspire them through our school animal educational programs San Diego. We provide an opportunity to interact with live animal ambassadors! Our school programs are present and active in many schools throughout San Diego. 

Team Zovargo at the STEAM Maker Festival

Team Zovargo at the STEAM Maker Festival

Special Thanks to our Photographers Jorge and Trenton for supporting us at this event and providing all these great images! 

Zovargo is Totally Awesome in SoCal!

We are overly excited to have just been nominated for Red Tricycle's Totally Awesome Awards. Just to get chosen as a finalist, their staff check into the organization to make sure it's truly awesome and deserving of an award. We were finalist among some awesome other organizations like Bates Nut Farm and The San Diego Zoo! Zovargo friends and family rallied together and voted as much as possible and we can't believe it - we WON! 

We have an awesome badge to show for it too!