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Tree Huggers Unite: May 16 Is National LOVE A Tree Day

Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone. (Czesław Miłosz)

A nation that destroys its soils destroys itself. Forests are the lungs of our land, purifying the air and giving fresh strength to our people. (Franklin D. Roosevelt)

Look at the trees, look at the birds, look at the clouds, look at the stars… and if you have eyes you will be able to see that the whole existence is joyful. Everything is simply happy. Trees are happy for no reason; they are not going to become prime ministers or presidents and they are not going to become rich and they will never have any bank balance. Look at the flowers — for no reason. It is simply unbelievable how happy flowers are. (Osho)

Fast! Run out today, May 16, and hug your nearest tree! Today is National Love a Tree Day — on this day, trees are celebrated and recognized for their multitude of wonderful gifts. National Love a Tree Day is a relative of Arbor Day, and sits in the middle of Garden for Wildlife Month. Use #LoveATreeDay to post on social media, and discover Five Awesome Ways to Celebrate Love a Tree Day.

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As caretakers of this beautiful sphere, it remains our utmost responsibility to honor, safeguard, and protect these living entities. Upwards of 5,000 years old, they’ve borne witness to the rise and fall of entire civilizations. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Plant a tree…Recycle…Go paperless… Follow those conservation groups diligently working to protect these lovely, ancient living citadels. Or just show them some love and respect, and give them a nice big pat or hugggggg.

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In honor of LOVE A TREE DAY, check out this brief Nat Geo clip of a most amazing man, Payeng — who single-handedly reforested his devastated wasteland of an island, which is now (thanks to him), home to thriving native wildlife. Awe-inspiring and endless gratitude can’t convey enough.


With as many horrific stories of needless and careless deforestation as there are today, such stories do exist… There are so many wonderful people and groups helping to sustain the planet’s flora ecosystems. Trees are not something we can live without as a species, after all.

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Everyone loves trees!

Everyone loves trees!

Celebrating the 8th Annual Florida Week for the Animals

“I hold that the more helpless a creature, the more entitled it is to protection by man from the cruelty of man.” (Mohandas Gandhi)

“I will not kill or hurt any living creature needlessly, nor destroy any beautiful thing, but will strive to save and comfort all gentle life, and guard and perfect all natural beauty upon the earth.” (John Ruskin)

“There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.” (Charles Darwin)

“The worst sin toward our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” (George Bernard Shaw)

Florida Week for the Animals

Profuse apologies for the extended delay from my happy place, my place of serenity — but keeping up with a few moves and a few jobs has forced a brief hiatus. HOWEVER, thanks to the wonderful people at Florida Week for the Animals, I’ve been given the opportunity to post about this most wonderful annual event. Running February 20-28, Florida Week for the Animals hosts an amazing number of events throughout the state, through this upcoming weekend.

Help celebrate this amazing week, and speak up for the innocent and voiceless of our state — this week and every day. It doesn’t take much. Check out their Calendar of Events (2 pages worth!), which is constantly updated with new and exciting activities. And click here to see if there’s a similar Week for the Animals in your own state!

More from the lovely Michelle, at Florida Week for the Animals:

Animal World USA is pleased to announce the 8th Annual Florida Week for the Animals is scheduled February 20-28, 2016.  During the fun-filled week animal shelters, rescue groups, wildlife centers, educational institutions and humane organizations across the entire state will be hosting wonderful animal-related special events that will be saving lives, building relationships, helping animals and strengthening communities. Educators, students, businesses and caring citizens across the state will be joining in to celebrate and help the animals.

Events will include adoption events, low cost & free spay/neuter events in honor of World Spay Day, R.E.A.D. dog programs in libraries, Siberian Husky Olympics, festivals for the shelter and rescue animals, 5K’s and Walks for animals, Ponies for Pups polo benefit, events, pet food donations, farm animal sanctuary events, wildlife camps, bird tours/activities, Wetlands festivals,  galas for homeless animals, pet food donation drives, and therapy animals visiting hospitals and living-assisted homes.

Also to be included are a salute to our working K-9 and handlers, low cost vaccinations, educational events, vegetarian dinner theater and meetups, and fun-filled activities for families to enjoy friendship, food, music on behalf of the always amazing animals. Scores of precious lives will be saved and lasting new relationships will be built during the dynamic week which has approximately 100 events scheduled!

Please note that events and activities will be added through the week as energy grows for the animals.  For more info call 901-454-0807. Please see the exciting website and learn how to become involved at

Florida Panther Kitten (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Florida Panther Kitten (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Gopher Tortoise in His Burrow: One of the oldest living species, and now listed as threatened in Florida

Alligator Pair in the Everglades, Florida

Alligator Pair in the Everglades, Florida: What’s not to love about these gorgeous, ancient, fascinating creatures?


A Day to Celebrate the Amazing FROG

Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will begin to comprehend it better everyday. And you will come to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. -Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I recently posted lots of amazing facts about our wonderful but endangered FROGS (See “Protecting the Prince”), but… April 25 is Save the Frogs DAY.

A Green frog enjoys the pond at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

A Green frog enjoys the pond at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Frogs are amphibians, a word which comes from the Greek meaning “both lives” — they live in the worlds of water and land. Frogs continue to be seen as an indicator species, providing scientists with valuable insight into how an ecosystem is functioning. Because they are both predators and prey, many animals are affected by them — giving further insight into the health of an ecosystem. There are over 6,000 species of frogs worldwide, and scientists continue to search for new ones….

A bright and lovely cricket frog in the Everglades

A bright and lovely cricket frog in the Everglades

Unfortunately, about 120 amphibian species, including frogs, toads and salamanders, have disappeared since 1980. Historically, one species of amphibian would disappear every 250 years — a powerful case for conserving and nurturing their (and our) environments. Our adorable Southern green tree frogs took up residence in unused  birdhouses, and I happily accommodated them by adding more shelters (and of course, never using pesticides) — anything to help their dwindling populations. There’s so much we can do to help these amazing creatures — limit pesticide use (ban it!), and provide safe spaces for them to live and thrive.

A tiny barking tree frog in Jonathan Dickinson State Park

A tiny barking tree frog in Jonathan Dickinson State Park

A wonderful vintage Larkin Advertising Card, featuring Mr. Frog

A wonderful vintage Larkin Advertising Card, featuring Mr. Frog

Frogs have fascinated humans for millennia, and are ancient symbols and totems of transformation. From the wonderful Ted Andrews and his iconic ANIMAL-SPEAK:

Moonlight Bouquets, by the incomparable Margaret Clark

Moonlight Bouquets, by the incomparable Margaret Clark

The frog is our most recognizable amphibian…. Frogs have an ancient mythology about them. Being amphibians with links to the water and the land, they are often associated with the magic of both elements. This also links them to the lore of fairies and elves. Many shamanic societies — especially North and South American — link the frog with rain and control of the weather. Its voice is said to call forth the rains.

Because of its connection to water, it is also linked to lunar energies (the moon moves the tides of waters upon the planet) and those goddesses associated with the moon. The frog was an animal attributed to the Egyptian goddess Herit, who assisted Isis in her ritual for resurrecting Osiris.

Upper section of totem pole featuring the Killer Whale and Frog — Courtesy Museum Victoria, Australia

Upper section of totem pole featuring the Killer Whale and Frog — Courtesy Museum Victoria, Australia

Frogs have been known to be heralds of abundance and fertility, especially since in their polliwog stage they resemble the male spermatozoa. This is also due to the fact that after rains, a greater number of frogs come up to dry land and feed on insects and worms who have come out of the rain-soaked land. It is also associated with fertility, for rain makes things grow.

Even as adults, frogs remain semi-aquatic. They live in damp areas. They need water and all that is associated with it symbolically or otherwise/ If frog has hopped into your life, you may need to get in touch with the water element. It may reflect that there are new rains coming or that you need to call some new rains forth. Maybe the old waters are becoming dirty and stagnant. Frog can teach you how to clean them up.

Emotions are often associated with water. Individuals with frog totems are very sensitive to the emotional stats of others, and seem to know instinctively how to act and what to say. They know how to be sincerely sympathetic.

Detail of a frog symbol on a totem pole at the Vancouver Airport, B.C. (Credit: MCArnott)

Detail of a frog symbol on a totem pole at the Vancouver Airport, B.C. (Credit: MCArnott)

Frog holds the knowledge of weather and how to control it. Frog medicine can bring rains for every purpose — to cleanse, to heal, to help things grow, to flood, to stir. Its energies can be used to bring light showers or downpours for most any purpose….

The frog is a totem of metamorphosis. It is a symbol of coming into one’s own creative power. It changes from an egg, to a polliwog, to a frog. Even after it becomes a frog, it lives close to and spends much time in the water. It always has contact with the creative force out of which it came. Usually frog people have strong ties to their own mothers.

This connection to water should also serve as a reminder to those with this totem. Are you becoming too mundane? Are you becoming mired in the mud of your day-to-day life? Are you needing to dive into some fresh creative water? Are those around you? Are you feeling waterlogged, becoming too bogged down, or drowning in emotions?

A frog blends with duckweed in the FLA wetlands

A frog blends with duckweed in the FLA wetlands

Frogs are tuned keenly to sound. Over each ear canal is a round membrane, a tympanic organ — which enables them to recognize and respond to certain sounds and their locations. Science has known for a long time that water is one of the bet conductors of sound. This sensitivity to sound should be developed by frog people. Their taste in music will probably not run mainstream, but they can learn to use their voice to stir the emotions and to call for the rains or change the climatic conditions of their own lives.

For more info:

Save the Frogs!

Save the Frogs!

An Earth Day Note of Gratitude

Since I’ve had my little blog, I’ve been blessed with requests from biologists, scientists, park rangers, national wildlife organizations, and artists to use my photos — my tiny glimpses into the continually threatened natural Florida. I always learn so much from them all, and am incredibly grateful to have met them.

In honor of Earth Day, I want to give an enormous THANKS to all of those who work so incredibly hard, often in dubious and/or dangerous situations, for our beautiful blue sphere — the hands-on scientists and rangers working directly with the wildlife and lands, caring for the welfare of so many threatened and endangered critters and ecosystems. An equal shout of gratitude to the writers, artists, and outspoken voices of our wonderful world!

Most recently, I met Everglades biologist John Kellam, and he kindly shared his amazing research on the endangered Florida panther. To say that this is a special and rare glimpse into the lives of these magnificent and elusive animals is an understatement! I hope you enjoy John’s images and descriptive text as much as I did — and another thanks to him for sharing his work for, and obvious love of, these endangered creatures.

From John: I am a biologist; Since 2006, I have been a member of the National Park Service Florida panther capture, research, and monitoring team, and the lead biologist of the first successful home range and habitat use study of the Big Cypress fox squirrel (a Florida State listed Threatened species) in natural habitats (

Florida Panther Kitten  (Copyright  John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Florida Panther Kitten (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

More from John: The kitten in the photos is 1 of 3 kittens located in female Florida panther #162’s den on August 15, 2014 in the interior of Big Cypress National Preserve.

Florida Panther Kitten,  Copyright  John Kellam, Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Florida Panther Kitten (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

When a female panther is denning and her kittens are @ 14 days old (based on radio-telemetry data), we wait until she leaves the den (typically to go hunting), then we locate the den and process the kitten away from the den site. Our medical work-up of kittens involves collecting biopsy, hair, and ectoparasite samples, inserting subcutaneous microchips (PIT-tags), obtaining body mass/measurement data, and administering oral medications. Once we have processed the kittens, we place them back in the den.

When kittens are handled at dens, we gain valuable reproduction information on litter size, gender, weight, genetics, and overall health of kittens. In addition, kittens with microchips provide us information on movements and survival if handled again as an adult.

Florida Panther Kittens at Den (Copyright  John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Florida Panther Kittens at Den (Copyright John Kellam), Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida

Here’s much love and good wishes to a promising future for these amazing animals — Happy Earth Day!

A Clip Here, a Snip There: World Spay Day Is February 24

Best Friends Feral Cat MafiaFebruary is National Spay / Neuter Month, and today is World Spay Day!

We’ve called this “The Year of the Clipping and Snipping” for our neighborhood strays and abandoned cats… Having recently relocated to a large city, we were immediately struck with the number of roaming hungry mouths, right outside our door. Of course, feeding them and providing shelter is easy enough — their spirits are unbelievably beautiful — but after repeated litters immediately upon our arrival, we knew we had to become quickly proactive with TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return). I was actively TNRing in my old home — always abandoned animals from foreclosed homes — but being in the city is an entirely different affair. We’re up to 10 spayed and neutered kitties now, and we’re not done. Nor do we feel like criminals for trying to help the stray populations (I’m looking at you, certain very large counties in Florida) — Hoorah!


We’re lucky to live in a city where the Best Friends Animal Society  provides a grant, for spaying and neutering. Not only does the city proper take an active effort with TNR (instead of rounding animals up for the kill-shelter); there’s even a paid associate to assist should you need it. We had already bought a cage, but she’s been exceptionally helpful with transporting the kitties, and giving them a place to recuperate from the surgeries. Read more about the Best Friends grant program here.

"Itty Bitty" — Expected another round of food

“Itty Bitty” — One of our 10 successful TNRs (and one of 2 possible adoptions), expecting another round of food

World Spay Day

Save a Life - Spay and NeuterWE humans domesticated cats and dogs, to help us in more ways than ever imagined. It’s OUR responsibility to help them, whenever possible. The facts are brutal, as are the lives of these sweet and beautiful strays, ferals, and abandoned animals. As difficult as it may be to look at, it’s even harder to look away. There’s so much to do — feeding and sheltering your local critters, donating to local shelters, adopting, fostering… The list is never-ending!

"Samuel Beckett" — Dropped off at our local bookstore, and adopted by the kind folks there

“Samuel Beckett” — Abandoned at our local bookstore, and adopted by the kind folks there. Here with his surrogate bunny-momma

Top 10 Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Pet, from the ASPCA:

  1. Your female pet will live a longer, healthier life.
    Spaying helps prevent uterine infections and breast cancer, which is fatal in about 50 percent of dogs and 90 percent of cats. Spaying your pet before her first heat offers the best protection from these diseases.
  2. Neutering provides major health benefits for your male.
    Besides preventing unwanted litters, neutering your male companion prevents testicular cancer, if done before six months of age.
  3. Your spayed female won’t go into heat.
    While cycles can vary, female felines usually go into heat four to five days every three weeks during breeding season. In an effort to advertise for mates, they’ll yowl and urinate more frequently—sometimes all over the house!
  4. Your male dog won’t want to roam away from home.
    An intact male will do just about anything to find a mate! That includes digging his way under the fence and making like Houdini to escape from the house. And once he’s free to roam, he risks injury in traffic and fights with other males.
  5. Your neutered male will be much better behaved.
    Neutered cats and dogs focus their attention on their human families. On the other hand, unneutered dogs and cats may mark their territory by spraying strong-smelling urine all over the house. Many aggression problems can be avoided by early neutering.
  6. Spaying or neutering will NOT make your pet fat.
    Don’t use that old excuse! Lack of exercise and overfeeding will cause your pet to pack on the extra pounds—not neutering. Your pet will remain fit and trim as long as you continue to provide exercise and monitor food intake.
  7. It is highly cost-effective.
    The cost of your pet’s spay/neuter surgery is a lot less than the cost of having and caring for a litter. It also beats the cost of treatment when your unneutered tom escapes and gets into fights with the neighborhood stray!
  8. Spaying and neutering your pet is good for the community.
    Stray animals pose a real problem in many parts of the country. They can prey on wildlife, cause car accidents, damage the local fauna and frighten children. Spaying and neutering packs a powerful punch in reducing the number of animals on the streets.
  9. Your pet doesn’t need to have a litter for your children to learn about the miracle of birth.
    Letting your pet produce offspring you have no intention of keeping is not a good lesson for your children—especially when so many unwanted animals end up in shelters. There are tons of books and videos available to teach your children about birth in a more responsible way.
  10. Spaying and neutering helps fight pet overpopulation.
    Every year, millions of cats and dogs of all ages and breeds are euthanized or suffer as strays. These high numbers are the result of unplanned litters that could have been prevented by spaying or neutering.

TNR InfographicFor More Information:


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