I love what I do! Sure, it's really hard some days when it's impossible to do everything that I want to (or need to), but then there's those days when we do something that is just amazing. I'm filled with an incredible satisfaction with the work that I'm doing each day to care for displaced animals and encourage interest and educate about science and nature. We create a fun environment to maximize the positive feeling associated with learning about science. It's hardly possible to get bored when a real live animal is right in front of you!
This weekend we did Animal Wonders' first Holiday event. In a series of interesting events the most wonderful thing played out. Our intern, Brooke, became interested in helping to create fundraising events to help the animals and the educational programs. She came up with an idea to take Santa Photos with an animal... why haven't I thought of this before!? It turns out her dad is basically Santa Clause and her mother is Mrs. Clause. Seriously. So the fun began and everything fell into place perfectly.
Ok, so I love Christmas. No, I love the Holiday season. I say it that way because I think it's mostly about the warm color scheme, awesome mood lighting, snow and icicles, giving gifts, and everyone seems to greet each other with more warmth and kindness than other times of the year. And it's not just Christmas that I love, it's everything from Halloween to the end of the year. I also like warm clothes and in Montana the winter is just getting going and warm clothes still feel novel.
Alright, the scene is set. I'm happy, Augusto is happy, everyone's happy, Santa is in the building, and animals are eager to get out and interact with the people. The first few kids venture in and see Santa in his fluffy red suit greeting them with a hearty "Ho Ho Ho!". As they walk up to Santa I feel like I'm watching a movie. I guess I never really got to do the whole Santa thing when I was a kid so this was kinda my first. I watched as they became serious when Santa was evaluating their behavior on his naughty and nice list. Their pure joy when they found out they were "nice". Then it was my turn, I got to introduce the kids, who were filled with so much joy, to the animals. Their eyes were big and I could see them start observing, inquiring, and discovering. Right there I was hit over the head, like a silent moment in chaos, that I love what I do.
Now, pair all this perfection with a very skilled photographer, Ryan Hellegaard, and you get priceless moments in time captured, like this one.
I love this picture.
So bring on the overwhelming days. Bring on the difficulties we face every single day. Because I wouldn't trade moments like this for an easier life any day. This might not seem like an important moment to some, but this is just one moment of many for Allisa, the girl in the photo. Her interest in animals brought her to this event and the joy she found here will stay with her. If we can continue to engage her interest in animals, then we can expand on that interest and create curiosity about the environments in which the animals survive. Environment associates to adaptation, associates to diversity, associates to biology, associates to chemistry, associates to physics. We can teach observation, inquiry, discovery, theory. This moment could be the beginning of a lifelong interest in science.
We are so excited to bring you this fun and creative cookbook! Designed for the aspiring cook who wants to enjoy learning recipes. Each recipe has been inspired by one of the Animal Wonders animal ambassadors and include fun facts for that species and individual animal. Recipes include drinks, appetizers, entrees, and desserts.
We hope you have fun cooking and creating!
$25 per cookbook. Contact Us to purchase your book. All proceeds from sales go directly to the animals.
So we got some paper and some paint. Then we got some animals and made some super awesome footprint cards. Aren't they great?! The reptiles got together to make the one on the far left, we call it Reptile Dance. The one on the top right is called Cavy Skunk Parade because that's what it looked like when Lollipop the skunk and Chili Pepper the Patagonian cavy were marching over the paper. The one on the bottom is called Bird Hop, I think you can guess why.
These unique cards are a perfect way for you to support Animal Wonders. Not only are you give the animals much needed funds, you get awesome cards to share, and when you share these cards you're also sharing about Animal Wonders and the amazing animals that created these works of art!
Contact Us to order your cards. $15 for each pack of 10. Choose from Reptile Dance, Cavy Skunk Parade, or Bird Hop. Or order 30 and get one of each!
Taking all orders of 2014 Animal Wonders calendars!!!
We spent the year taking amazing photographs of the animals at Animal Wonders. We kept some of the most interesting, beautiful, stunning, and expressive back only to be revealed in our calendar.
Only $15 per calendar!
When you purchase your calendar you know that 100% of the proceeds go directly to the animals and our educational programs. We will have local pick-up locations in Missoula, MT, we can also ship in the USA for $5, or internationally for the price of shipping.
Meet joey #4!! He is just as special as each and every bettong joey born because these amazing little marsupials are critically endangered. Who could possibly want these cuties to go away forever? The answer is no one. These guys are good for everything in their habitat. Even humans that live in the same environment want bettongs to flourish once again. Their special relationship with fungi, feces, and vegetation creates a real life natural miracle grow community. Now what farmer wouldn't want his plants to grow bigger and stronger? The animals enjoy more shelter and food. The fungi benefits, the plants benefit, and so do the bettongs. Now that's a win win win situation!! Let's get these guys back in the wild!!
Of course that requires some in depth scientific studies on bacteria, parasites, population growth and decline, in situ and ex situ studies, and lots and lots of captive bred bettongs!!
Fall is Here!
While the temperature outside is still hot, the seasons are changing here at Animal Wonders. Summer camp shows are ending, Cas the Arctic Fox is starting to get tinges of white in his grey summer coat, and our garden is reaching its end, providing a good harvest for the animals' diets. We had a very exciting summer with the addition of a new animal ambassador, baby scorpions (or scorplings), and baby walking stick bugs! Many of our animals got renovations to their habitats as well as the animal compound getting a new look too. It seemed we were always busy out in the community this summer and we couldn't be happier!
What We've Been Doing
Animal Wonders had a great summer in the Missoula community! Our schedule was packed with shows. We kept busy bringing the animal ambassadors to several summer camps. It's great to be able to continue educating kids even while school is out! We also kept western Montanans educated and entertained with our open to the public show including. Our biggest events were River City Roots Festival in Missoula and Riverfest in Hamilton where Daisy the 7-foot Red Tailed Boa got a chance to amaze the audience. The ever more popular SciShow, a Youtube show dedicated to educating the public on science based topics, has continued to invite us back too. Jessi has been bringing in the animal ambassadors to discuss their unique adaptations and to share them with entire world! No really, the entire world! We've decided to venture out and create our own YouTube channel to expand our reach internationally; free education for all! Join us on our adventure and subscribe (it's free) to our channel to see all of our videos! Here's the link!
In between all of our outings we were able to get some improvements made in the animal compound. The Mammal Room had its renovations with a new flooring for the porcupine, cavies, and foxes, and we built a new enclosure to house our newest animal ambassador: Lollipop the Striped Skunk! The Bird Room looks spiffy with new enclosures for our feathered friends. and to top it all off our Diet Prep room has a completely new look: brand new linoleum flooring, newly built and freshly painted walls, tile back splash, and the installation of shelving units to provide for more storage as we continue to expand!
We have been diligently working on making the expansion of Chili Pepper the Patagonian Cavy and Patches the Guinea Pig's habitat a reality. Some of our amazing volunteers spent an entire day clearing a space behind the compound where the planned expansion will go. We hope to provide our cavies with an outdoor dirt floored enclosure in addition to the current indoor habitat. Cavies are natural burrowers and we would love to provide Chili Pepper and Patches more opportunities to do what they love - dig! If you would like to help make this project a reality please visit our donation page and give any amount you can spare. Any amount helps and is greatly appreciated!
Liquid Planet is sponsoring a fundraiser for Animal Wonders throughout the month of September. Lollipop invites you try her delicious specialty drink: the Striped Mocha. A blend of dark and white chocolate swirled with espresso is a delicious way to start your morning, and what's more is that $1 of every Striped Mocha sold during the month of September will go to support Lollipop and the other animal ambassadors. Here at Animal Wonders, every cent goes to providing the best care to the animals and to reaching out to share them with the community. This is a great way to help!
It's about time! We've refloored and walled in the Animal Food Prep room! This means no more carpet, no more foam pads, no more table clothes as walls... was that an over share?
Here at Animal Wonders, we live in reality. Sort of. We are a very small organization that currently runs off of a pure volunteer staff. That means that truly every penny raised goes directly to the care and well being of the animals we care for. We hope to create a place where we can have a few paid employees so we can completely dedicate ourselves to the animals and the educational presentations. Until then, the money will continue to be spent for the animals. In this case it was for a secure space to create the magic of nutritious diets.
So, getting back to reality. Our facility is in Montana, it gets cold (and hot) here so most of the animals must remain in a temperature controlled environment. Which means the compound is attached to our home in order to share resources and be more environmentally friendly. We also use reclaimed and recycled materials which means that sometimes functionality rules over being visually appealing. So let's just say the new Food Prep room looks SO much better than it did last week. Here's some pictures to prove it.
So after the floor, wall, and paint went up. We reorganized everything and will probably rearrange several more times before we're happy. Want to see some more photos of upgrades? Here's some of the Cavy enclosure we did a few months ago.
We're making lots of much needed improvements to the Compound thanks to our amazing community who continues to support us and the animals by booking shows for their schools, birthday parties, and community events. Thank you all!!!
The next project we've been raising funds for is a large dirt floored enclosure for the Cavies. It will connect with their current indoor enclosure to give them access to warm indoors or dirt galore to dig their furry feet and claws into. If you would like to help make this project a reality please visit our donation page and give any amount you can spare. Any amount helps, if we get 100 people to give $50, or 200 people to give $25 we can make this happen next week! Even $5 helps us get to our goal. Again, thank you all!!!
We love visiting Hank and friends on SciShow for the Talk Show portion of their YouTube channel. We always have so much fun! This time we were invited to talk a little about more than just animals. Augusto joined Hank and I in front of the camera and I (Jessi) talked about one thing I know quite a lot about...poop. Yep, poop. In addition to our normal animal segments, we also shot footage for a second episode about how Augusto and I met, gained experience and knowledge, and finally founded Animal Wonders.
Here's some photos of the video shoot. Lots of fun!
Welcome our little furry friend! Lollipop has joined the crew of Animal Ambassadors at Animal Wonders and she's stealing hearts with every snuffle of her nose. She has a bright and curious personality and we are happy to be able to offer her a life-long home at Animal Wonders. If you were not aware already, the fur industry has started to make a comeback. Meaning, wearing animal fur is becoming popular as a fad in several countries and animals are being bred and harvested in fur farms as well as taken from the wild by snares and traps to supply the demand. Lollipop's pelt and fur look much better on her than it could possibly look on any human. She will be an Ambassador to speak for how amazing striped skunks are and how precious their fur is to them.
We just had a very successful Clean-Up Day at Animal Wonders! With only 6 sets of hands and muscles we were able to clear a huge space behind the current insulated Animal Compound. This space is vital for expanding the enclosures since it's directly behind the Compound. Our first step was to clean it up of old stacks of wood and other miscellaneous items that have collected over the years that the property was used to store materials for carpentry projects. Now that it's cleaned up, the next step is to dig a very large whole to build the foundation of the new expanded area!
We plan on building additional Bird and Reptile Rooms and adding a Dirt Floored room onto the current indoor Cavy enclosure. Birds and reptiles are the most common animals in need of homes since people purchase on a whim and find out later the animal needs more care than they can provide. The Cavy enclosure houses Chili Pepper the Patagonian Cavy and Patches the Guinea Pig. We would love to give them the opportunity to engage in their natural behavior of digging. We're super excited to be starting on this endeavor. If you are interested in helping with this project we are in need of materials and monetary donations to make this dream come to fruition. Please contact us with materials (cinder blocks, wood, metal roofing, etc) or donate directly through our PayPal link.