2020 was a crazy year! We had been saving up to extend our current enclosures and add three more. Adding the extra enclosures meet we could add more ambassadors for you. Unfortunately, Covid hit and everything went on hold as we figured out what was best for our animals. Without programs we had no income so the building plans were put on hold.
Between April and August 2020 we sat down and really thought about the future of Ambassadors of Nature LLC. What did we want to contribute to our area? We decided that we wanted to reach more learners and help more animals in need. This was a big project and one we knew we wouldn’t be able to tackle alone. We were going to need help!
We decided that we would become a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. This would allow us to engage more with the community. As a nonprofit we can take volunteers, go to more community events and even create events of our own. 501(c)3 status also allows our amazing supporters to donate to a cause they care about.
We have worked very hard in 2021 to get our bank account back to a comfortable level. Having $5,000 in the account allows us to care for all our animals for one year and have a large amount leftover in case of an emergency. This means that the rest of the funds generated in 2021 will go towards building supplies to expand our animal housing! Stay tuned for more exciting news as Ambassadors of Nature Education Foundation continues to grow!
Ophelia had a rough beginning. She was born a wild Virginia Opossum in the woods outside of Tallahassee. Like all marsupials she began her life in her mothers warm pouch surrounded by her brothers and sisters. Once space becomes cramped opossums climb out of the pouch and ride on moms back. Virginia Opossum moms must be very patient because they can have many little ones riding and clinging onto their backs. Unfortunately, tragedy struck, Ophelia's mother was hit by a passing car. I kind stranger stopped to check on their condition and brought them to the local rehabilitation center, The Florida Wild Mammal Association.
At The Florida Wild Mammal Association it was determined that Ophelia's mother had succumbed to her injuries and had passed away. All the babies looked to be in good condition, a testament to their mothers care. All except one, little Ophelia had sustained a horrible break in her front left leg. A decision was made to amputate the limb. Opossums are highly adaptable and can live full and happy lives with missing limbs. But they cannot return to the wild.
Being that Virginia Opossums are the only marsupial in North America Ambassadors of Nature was looking for an ambassador opossum at this exact time. A call went out to Florida rehabilitation centers and to friends to find Ambassadors of Nature an opossum in need of a home. We recieved an email about
a young opossum with a great temperate in need of a home. We immediately contacted FWMA and were so excited to meet this sweet girl. In September of 2018 we made the trip to pick up Ophelia and bring her to our facility and her new home. She was nervous at first but once she was comfortable you couldn't stop this little girl from exploring her new world. Ophelia is now an excellent ambassador for her misunderstood species and works hard to change the hearts of hundreds of people every year!
There has been some talk recently about moving Animals from Zoos to Sanctuaries. The word sanctuary sounds nice but what does it mean? The definition of the word sanctuary is a place of refuge or safety. Now, let’s look at the definition of the word Zoo; an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals, typically in a park or gardens, for study, conservation, or display to the public. Both of these definition seem pretty good, right?
I believe that both sanctuaries and zoos have a place in our world. Zoos are designed for education and conservation programs. While sanctuaries are designed to be a place of refuge for animals. Both facilities have a purpose. So why do people believe that animals should be taken out of the zoos and placed into sanctuaries? I believe it is simply because of the wording used.
Sanctuaries, by definition being a place of refuge, sounds very nice. Many sanctuaries are very nice but they are also nonprofits, meaning they run solely on public donation. This can cause a problem in some situations, where the sanctuary is simply not collecting enough donations to properly care for the animals in their collection. Another issue with sanctuaries is staffing, many places can on hire a few people and then the rest are volunteers. On the flip side, many sanctuaries give personal tours so information on how to preserve these animals is better received. Also, because sanctuaries have less animals each enclosure is sometimes larger.
Now, let’s talk about Zoological facilities. To remind you, the definition zoos are an establishment that maintains a collection of wild animals, typically in a park or gardens, for study, conservation, or display to the public. Zoos were once only about entertainment and public display of wild animals. Things have changed, almost every Zoo in America, AZA or not, is involved with some kind of conversation project. These studies and conservation programs have allowed zoo born animals to be released back into the wild (these release programs also have a few sanctuaries breeding animals for release as well). Zoos also believe conservation starts with education. The vast majority of zoos have some sort of educational programs going on everyday.
I urge you to visit a reputable zoo at least once before writing them off as horrible places. Talk to the staff and ask questions, give zoos a chance to shake off the past and see what they have become. Zoos and sanctuaries BOTH have their own special place each different but each the same.
When finding an ambassador animal sometimes it’s better to start fresh. Baby Animals can easily adjust to being in front of larger crowds. Ambassadors of Nature also knew we wanted an owl so the research began. What owl species do best as ambassadors? What species would the public like to see? What species will fit the best into our programming? After much thought and advice from others in the industry we settled on a Eurasian Eagle Owl, the largest species of owl.
After we had settled on a species we needed to find an owlet. We sought advice from a good friend who put us in touch with amazing facility who focuses on owl propagation. After many long phone conversations we felt like this was a facility we felt extremely comfortable supporting. We decided on a male and worked out the details. He had multiple owlets but only one male so we really lucked out! We received many updates on Baby Archimedes and enjoyed all the baby photos sent to us.
Then he was ready to fly, commercially that is. Preparations were made and plane tickets purchased and the next thing we knew we were on our way to Orlando to pick up our newest member of our family. Our copilot (my father) made the trip with us with helped with our stress. The stress was unwarranted because Archimedes arrived on schedule, happy and most importantly, healthy.
The first two months Archimedes lived in the house where he discovered the magic box of moving pictures. The television absolutely fascinated him. This made cleaning time easy. He enjoyed pouncing on toys and sitting on the couch. Through his time inside we were building his enclosure outside. Soon he began his transition, spending his days outdoors and nights inside.
The day finally came where he would spend his first night outdoors. We didn’t sleep and we’re not sure he did either. He was very comfortable outside but us shining the flashlight in his direction every hour probably kept him up. Although we felt bad about our intrusion into his night we were comforted by that fact he felt right at home. He loves it outside and can be seen either sitting in front of his fan watching the songbirds or playing with one of his many enrichment items.
We are so happy to have this handsome guy as a member of our Ambassadors of Nature family. Check out our Facebook for updates and pictures of Archimedes.
Recently there has been a lot of talk pushing for laws against single use plastic straws. I believe this has stemmed from a high of level videos being shared on social media featuring animals (especially marine mammals) with straws in their bodies. People were appalled at the video of the of the sea turtle having the straw removed from his nostril, which has over 40 million views on YouTube alone. This movement seemed to start as a social media push to “skip the straw”. It seemed to quickly spiraled from just advocating to skip a straw when eating out at a restaurant to passing laws against restaurants offering straws.
This is where I run in to troubled waters. although I do believe that our planet would be a better place with less plastic pollution, and I personally try to skip the straw, I don’t believe placing a ban against straws is the correct move. Since the beginning of the ‘skip the straw’ movement there has push back from the community. This has primary came from the medical community arguing that some people simply need straws. This pro-straw argument is completely valid but tells me we did not do our job as conservation educators correctly.
‘Skip the Straw’ started around June 2018, right before the ‘Plastic Free July’ challenge. This is only a couple of months of anti-straw discussion, way too fast to move to a complete ban. People haven’t had a chance to be educated on the dangers of straws or shown alternatives. We all know that the general public doesn’t like change and loves convenience. I believe these two factors need to go into our educational talks. We need to give people the right information to make a decision on their own, therefore making the change easier because it was on their own terms. I believe, had we to more time in our education of why straws are dangerous and provided alternative solutions for all we would not be getting the push back we are seeing now.
Also, why are we pushing to make one use plastic straws illegal? In my opinion I believe plastic grocery bags are a bigger threat. When these bags float in the water they look very similar to jellyfish, a staple in sea turtle diets. This means, unlike the straw, sea turtles when seek out plastic bags and ingest them believing it is a food source. By moving too fast with a straw ban and angering people did we lose an opportunity to talk about plastic bags or anything else?
What do you think?
Afternoon fellow ambassadors! We have decided to create a blog to share with you interesting stories, updates on our animals, and some thoughts of our own. We make no promises posting a new blog every week or even every month because when it comes to animals scheduling time to sit and write will be difficult. We wanted this first blog post to be an introduction and a hello from us to you. We want to also give you the brief history on ambassadors of nature.
When we say we are young company that is no exaggeration, we started January 1, 2018. Just simply coming up with a name that would fit the business was a struggle. We went through many changes and finally settled on Ambassadors of Nature. Each of our animals are ambassadors not only to their wild kin but also to the habitats and ecosystems and which they come from. So the name Ambassadors of Nature just fit. Then came the logo. We are very fortunate to have such a talented friend who made us such a stunning logo! The first few months were full of paperwork and building enclosures, neither of which are completely done. We have gotten our class 3 permit through the State of Florida which allows us to have our ambassadors. We have hopes of acquiring our Migratory Bird Treaty Act license which will allow us to house native raptor species.
We worked closely with Florida certified teachers to make sure our programs would fit right in with what students were already learning in the classroom. One of our favorite quotes happens to be, “Tell me and I’ll forget, show me and I’ll remember, involve me and I’ll understand”. This specific mantra was very important to us when it came to developing each individual program. So far we have five different programs to choose from we have a meet the animals program which is perfect for birthday parties, retirement homes and daycares. Our educational programs consist of ecosystems, food chain, adaptations and conservation. We pride ourselves on being flexible and have even delivered specific programs on rainforest animals and even invasive species. We’d like people to know that when it comes to educating about conservation and animals we will try our best to make it happen even if it’s not one of the five programs listed on our website. This is because education is important to us and why we began this adventure with Ambassadors of Nature.
We have acquired some amazing ambassador animals to help shed light on conservation issues we can all get behind not only in our backyards here in Florida but around the entire world. Acquiring our ambassadors took some work. Each species we chose had to fit into our programming. We couldn’t very well do a program on the different ecosystems around the world and have nothing but rainforest animals we also couldn’t do a program on the food chain and have nothing but consumers. Therefore a lot of thought went into which species would be used. Next, it was very important to find individuals that would do well as an ambassador. Every single animal is an individual and has individual personalities. This being said we needed to make sure each individual ambassador we chose would be a good fit.
Moving forward we have some big ambitions. Not only will we continue our mission to provide stimulating educational programs to the Marion County area but we may have some surprises around the corner so stay turned!