Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Animal Ambassadors & Educational Outreach

"Ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth       
and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you."

---Ojibway Prayer


©Jerry Tuttle 2008

Everyone talks about: “Let’s leave a better planet for our kids”..... but it should be: “Let’s try to leave better kids for our planet.” 
Henry Beston said:

“We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from  
universal nature and living by complicated artifice,
man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."

The goal of Zoo Crew and the links on this page is to excite and provide links for all potential wildlife biologists, veterinarians, conservation and law enforcement officer, private citizens, herpetologists and pet owners encouraging the humane treatment of ALL animals and peak interest in fields of biology, conservation, zoology, marine biology and research.

I do 12 or more presentations each year in various locations and in different states.  Weather plays the key factor in travel.  I'm working on starting  a donation link directly to the NM Department of Game and Fish for "Grey Banded Kingsnake" survey proposal by NM State Herpetologist Charlie Painter.  There have been only 3 sightings of the grey bands since 1972 and they are now listed: "Endangered" and are protected.

The "ZOO CREW" is a group of friends who visit schools and public events with very special animals! Here are just a few:

Aja Michelle brings animals she has rescued.  The lizard being held is a
rescued Savannah Monitor Lizard and was found nearly dead in a dumpster. 

Care, time, patience, proper habitat and diet saved this beautiful fellow.  Savannah Monitors are related to the mighty Komodo Dragon.  

Too often people do not read or learn what an animal requires to thrive, rather, they buy on impulse.  The animals are ALWAYS the losers.  Part of this message is felt as rescued animals... now ambassadors are introduced.

We work with veterinary specialists to provide the best

We do NOT support or encourage possession or purchase of wild caught animals as pets.  We talk to our audience about "Bio-Piracy," the smuggling of animals for the pet trade. 

We encourage audiences always to leave the wild in your heart and not in your home.... to support CAPTIVE BORN & BRED.

 The Parrots:

Toby is a 9 year old Eclectus Parrot whose owner could
no longer care for him.  Toby is a "rescue" bird.  Robbie was purchased as a hand-raised baby to be around people.  

Toby loves meeting people and has a very good vocabulary.  He will live to be about 45 years old and will need to go to another care-giver when he outlives his owner.  

Toby -right and Robbie left-male Eclectus parrots ©JT 2014
Eclectus parrots have hair-like feathers and are very soft.

Female Eclectus are dimorphic and look very different from males. 

These parrots come from New Guinea, Australia and islands surrounding Indonesia.  Native populations are  "Threatened." 
Maia Red Papaya-female Eclectus ©Jerry Tuttle 2008
Helodermatidae- Gila Monsters & Beaded Lizards
Species Identification of Helodermatidae

"Protector, Healer, First Medicine Man, the Original Hand-Trembler, Bringer of Rain, Weaver of the Broken Strands, Foreteller of the Nature of Illnesses."

Gila Monsters are North America's largest lizard and  MOST fabled lizard.  They have been on Earth from the time of Tyrannosaurus Rex and Triceratops.  They are venomous.  They are "Imperiled" or "Highly Threatened" throughout their range and it is illegal to harm, capture or in any way impede a Gila Monster.

Gila Monster is named "Tiníléí" in the Navajo Language. It is said that Gila Monster possess mystical power, and its name is used as prayer in one ceremony. Gila Monster are respected and greatly honored by the Navajo People as well as certain Apache Tribes, and is used by Navajo medicine men to diagnose ailments.

The Diné (Navajo) people believe everything in nature has its own place and purpose in the universe. Animals and other living things play a significant role in the origin and existence of the Diné people.
Gila Monsters were created by a very powerful healing song. They possess very mystical powers.

Diné medicine men use the Gila monster as a tool to diagnose ailments. Its name is used as a prayer in the healing process, thus the Gila monster is respected and honored.

It is also believed some Diné women create weaving patterns which are based on the skin designs of the Gila Monster.

"Picasso" the Gila Monster is permitted through a NM Department of Game and Fish Science in Education program to educate people about a product made from the animal's venom called Byetta®.  This is effectivie in treating Diabetes Type II.

 Components of helodermatid venom are also being trialed for treatment of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Lung Cancer, and HIV/AIDS.  Picasso was captively bred in Colorado in 2006.

Byetta© is a treatment for Diabetes Type II 
manufactured from the venom of
Gila Monsters and Beaded Lizards.

    "Click" this to view a Gila Monster hatching.  
Gila Monster Skull Bone Clone Venom
is expressed through capillaries in the lower jaw

Mexican Beaded Lizard

 Like its North American cousin the Gila monster, 

Warning: "Running children appear as small injured animals."
the Beaded Lizard is venomous and has roamed the earth for millions of years.  

Beaded Lizards inhabit parts of Mexico and Central America with one species in Guatemala considered in the top 5 most critically endangered lizards in the world.

Beaded Lizards possess the same components in their venom as do Gila Monsters..... and it is effective in treatment of: Diabetes Type II, HIV/AIDS, Alzheimer's Disease, Parkinson's Disease and being trialed for lung cancer.

Unlike the Gila Monsters, superstitions that Beaded Lizards are bad has caused them to be killed on sight.  The best way to stop this is by teaching the truth and working with the youth.

Her name is OzoMatli, a Mayan name for "Sacred Spirit."  "Ozo" is a Mexican Beaded Lizard- H. horridum and will grow much  larger than their cousins-the Gila Monsters. 

When you understand an animal's 
intricacies and adaptations you begin 
to care more about them.

•What is a Jacobsen's Organ?
•What is Thermal Reception?
•Can a Snake's or Lizard's tongue hurt you?
•Why are snakes scary?

Classmates teaching classmates 2013


4/22/14: North Valley Academy
Location: Albuquerque
***Closed to the public

4/23/14: The Bosque School
Location Albuquerque
Thesis Presentation: "Herps and High Schoolers:  with the Zoo Crew ambassador animals by Seniors Olivia Herrera and Geneva Gurule
Closed to the public

4/24/14:  El Rancho de los Golandrinas
Location: Near Santa Fe, New Mexico
Public is invited.

4/25/14: BEMP Congress at the Bosque School for high school students throughout New Mexico and Arizona.
**** Closed to the general public.

5/1/14:  Santa Clara Pueblo- Earth Day celebration. 
Information and location:
Educational outreach provided by various organizations including NM Game and Fish, US Fish & Wildlife, Hawks Aloft, etc.
Public is invited.

2014 (past) Events:

First handling experience-
SY Jackson Elementary School; Alb, NM
"The Summer According to Humphrey"
500 Attendees-
literacy "1 book 1 school" project
Zoo crew present: "Og" the frog, gila monster, 
hognose snake, mountain kingsnake, California Kingsnake
Savannah Monitor- (rescue) and Aja Michelle providing
some of the ambassador animals for kids to touch.

Teacher: Summer Brown helping a student
North Valley Academy; Alb, NM
Pre-K class
20 Attendees
Snake acquaintance & confidence class


Herps & High Schoolers Project by Olivia Herrera and Geneva Gurule

 The Project:
"Their hypothesis is that 5th and 6th graders who receive reptile education that includes seeing live snakes are more likely to have positive attitudes about snakes than those who do not.

Therefore, they would like to work with you to develop a reptile education program that they can help teach. To do that they would of course need to receive training to handle reptiles. They would then do about 5 sessions to refine their program and end up with a high quality presentation that they could help to deliver consistently.  

Then they would help you conduct, hopefully, ten or more classroom programs in October and November. Prior to doing the classroom sessions they would administer a survey about student attitudes regarding snakes/reptiles. A week or two after the classroom session the students would take a follow up attitude survey to see if and how their attitudes might have shifted. 
 To be truly effective in answering their question, half the classes would not (control) have a live reptile element in their class and half would (treatment).

One of the students feels great sadness for the classes in the control group and would hope that sometime after the experiment is conducted, those classes could be returned to and have a live animal presentation follow up. This could be possible, but the students could not be informed about this until after they took the follow up attitude survey.

We have a number of schools and teachers in mind to contact about this, but wanted to make sure that you would be willing to help with a project of this scope. Our final goal would be for the girls to present their findings at a professional meeting in February of the Wildlife Society to be held in Arizona."

Calabar burrowing python
The Bosque School; Alb, NM
20 Attendees/ -6th grade
"Herps & High Schoolers" 
High School Science Project
measuring the affects of outreach education and student attitude changes in handling snakes.

The Albuquerque Rattlesnake Museum; Alb, NM
20 Attendees
Presentation by the Bosque senior girls science project results 
to the NM Herpetological Society. This was the culmination of a 6 month project by seniors Geneva Gurule and Olivia Herrrera, Dan Shaw their science teacher supported this concept.  Girls were invited to Arizona where they presented their findings alongside college-level students.  A 95% change was recorded in subject's attitudes from the educational presentation and having the snakes on site to handle afterwards.

2013-2014 Herps & High Schoolers Results

"Herps & High Schoolers"
at the Bosque School; Alb, NM
Olivia Herrera demonstrating proper handling 
to the class.  100% handling participation achieved 
20 Attendees - 5th grade

You don't have to be famous to be remembered. You have to TEACH.
"Og" the Frog

Kingsnake courtesy of Abq Rattlesnake Museum
"High Schoolers and Herps"
Manzano Day School
6th Grade
20 Attendees
100% student participation in handling

Another 1st

"Herps & High Schoolers"
The Bosque School
6th Grade
17 Attendees
100% student participation in handling

Snakes at every table
"Herps & High Schoolers"
The Bosque School
20 Attendees
100% student paticipation

Olivia Herrera and albino corn snake
"Herps & High Schoolers"
Manzano Day School
5th Grade
20 Attendees
97% student participation in handling


 Regarding Keeping Large Constrictors

I know this post will make me about as popular as a "Fart in Church."
But... it comes from the heart and from experience working throughout my life in the reptile/exotic world and as an animal control officer. 

I know a handful of people who have what it takes for lifetime commitment with and/or qualified sub-permitee status should they become unable to care. ---and be advised both these guys combined would probably NOT be strong enough to subdue this animal should it go into constrict mode.

...--->Here's the thought:

I'll start by making a probable safe assumption that around 10,000 baby Reticulated pythons are brought to the market for sale in the USA. CB, WC, or farmed.  I have no idea how many Burmese or rock pythons, or anacondas are brought in.
• How many of them ever even see the rather young age of 10? Let alone live a relatively full life 20 years?
Reticulated Python  ***Photo depicts size potential and is not
intended to portray any particular individual or photographer.

• How many of them end up overfed and killed?

• How many reach 15 feet in 2 years, only to be kicked from owner to owner til ultimately one of them neglects it long enough to finally let it die?

• Do you think the "ethical" businesses who spend thousands of dollars and countless man-hours raising them want these creatures to fail due to the poorly qualified owner?

• Did you know it is against both Federal and New Mexico state law to import/bring these animals over state lines without a "Tier 4" Qualified Expert Permit from NM Game & Fish? I have provided the Tier 4 requirements/import permit in the right margin at the top of the page.

As an Animal Control Officer I brought 4 rescued Burmese Pythons to my home, vetted, housed and fed... only to watch them ALL decline for about 6 months before dying in respiratory arrest. Two of the group had been homes in an improvised clothes closet and all 4 were kept with insufficient heat, poor caging and terrible conditions.

Think about that before you blow your next wad on some giant eye candy.

Here's where I will advocate that folks should stick to Ball pythons, morphed colubrids if they want colors morphs. But that is my recommendation ONLY in this instance. Stop the madness.


Keep Cats Safely Contained---

>>Tag • Neuter •Release  Does Not Work

It is complacent and extended cruelty to all those who cannot contain their cats or who are involved in re-abandoning (ABUSE) to the ferals.

    "Click" Abandonment & Neglect does not cure Feline Leukemia so Why are we letting them suffer?  

It is disastrous to native wildlife, private and public property, playgrounds, and it is a vector for some very lethal disease transmissions to humans, to native wild cat populations and even extends to otters--yes otters.

 When a nest is pillaged, all the baby birds die.
 4 billion birds in the U.S. are killed annually by                  
 free-roaming and feral cats from Tag Neuter Release
 programs.  727 Million reptiles per year.
 33 species are extinct due to cat predation.
In the right margin:  public information, education, photos, Outdoor containment ideas, documented studies, media releases, petitions for public support in ending the "backyard" unnecessary breeding of cats, encourage lifestyle matching before cat adoption occurs, veterinary statements, Game & Fish statements supporting ending "Catch & Release programs for unadoptable FERAL cats.
Catch and Release Programs for FERAL cats are a lose/lose/lose situation for cat lovers, the cats, native wildlife, vectors of disease to humans and other species.

Nearly 110 different zoonoses transmission vectors to other species including native bobcat and mountain lion populations-rhino and feline leukemia, calicivirus, tularemia, bartonella, corona, rabies transmission from eating sick rodents, bubonic plague... and oocytes from infected cats infiltrate our groundwater.

TOXOPLASMOSIS which can result in a pregnant mother's death or spontaneous abortion/birth defects, even sea otters suffer from feline toxoplasmosis which kills them and causes them to abort.
We 100% endorse the 100% humane capture, attempt to adopt and if unadoptable or deemed terminally ill, humane euthanasia by a technician.

The worst abuse that happens to cats occurs when they are allowed outside or abandoned. Attacks from wildlife, mean spirited people, exposure injuries, fan belt.....

Allowing cats to roam outdoors and/or Releasing cats to fend for themselves is a most pathetic statement about humans who have no idea and are deluded into thinking they are doing a favor by "sparing" a life.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


As "CHARACTER COUNTS" relates to animal care and is the most important aspect of humans. The choice is to reward children when they demonstrate care and concern for animals or overcome fears/accomplishing in relationship to animals. For demonstrating overcoming fear or "noticed" humane treatment of animals our local Hinkle Family Fun Center gives 1000's of certificates of accomplishment which then give children constructive play time at the center.

The 6 Pillars of Character are:

Be honest • Don’t deceive, cheat, or steal • Be reliable — do what you say you’ll do • Have the courage to do the right thing • Build a good reputation • Be loyal — stand by your family, friends, and country

Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule • Be tolerant and accepting of differences • Use good manners, not bad language • Be considerate of the feelings of others • Don’t threaten, hit or hurt anyone • Deal peacefully with anger, insults, and disagreements

Do what you are supposed to do • Plan ahead • Persevere: keep on trying! • Always do your best • Use self-control • Be self-disciplined • Think before you act — consider the consequences • Be accountable for your words, actions, and attitudes • Set a good example for others

Treat yourself fairly • Play by the rules • Take turns and share • Be open-minded; listen to others • Don’t take advantage of others • Don’t blame others carelessly • Treat all people fairly

Be kind • Be compassionate and show you care • Be compassionate and kind to animals • Express gratitude • Forgive others • Help people in need • Care about people being bullied

Do your share to make your school and community better • Cooperate • Get involved in community affairs • Stay informed; vote • Be a good neighbor • Obey laws and rules • Respect authority • Protect the environment • Volunteer