Garanimals Blog

Archive for the ‘conservation’ tag

February 9th, 2012 at 5:00 am

Single Vision, Inc. Saves Tigers

Most pet owners love their animals, but Carl Bovard is passionate about his, and has turned that passion into a mission he calls Single Vision. A terrible accident left Bovard with sight in only one eye. As he recovered, he came to see he had a vision that he should work to save the animals of the world. Since that time, Bovard has spent every waking moment learning about, working with, and caring for animals.

In 2005, he adopted two baby tigers born with vision problems that needed extra care, and he built a facility in Melrose, Florida, to house them. Bovard said he built Single Vision in memory of his grandfather, who owned a farm and who taught him to love and respect all animals.

As owner and founder of Single Vision, Inc., Carl does it all, with the help of some volunteers. In addition to the two original tigers, Single Vision is now home to nine other big cats and about 30 animals in all. Some of the other animals include: a bobcat, mountain lion, coatimundi, tarantulas and snakes. Many of the animals have come to Single Vision through Florida Fish and Wildlife confiscations.

In addition to providing sanctuary for the big cats and other animals that need a home, education is Carl’s true goal.

“We conduct private tours by appointment,” he said, “and sometimes visit school and library programs. We teach about habitat, range, physical characteristics, and status in the wild.” Big cats, especially tigers, are highly endangered, with only about 3,200 animals left in the wild.

“Three of the eight subspecies of tigers have gone completely extinct,” said Dilyn Jackson, who has been a volunteer with Single Vision for about five years. “Education is the key to their survival, and parents of young children will play a huge role in how the next generation cares for these animals and their environment. It’s the children of today who will decide the fate of our world tomorrow.”

Well-maintained facilities, such as Single Vision and reputable zoos, are important for preserving dwindling big cat populations. “Science has shown that you need a captive population of at least 250 animals within a subspecies to provide adequate breeding stock to bring a population back to the wild,” said Dilyn. It’s no easy feat to house and feed large tigers, which eat up to 30 pounds of raw meat a day.

The state of Florida has strict regulations for keeping exotic animals, and it’s a big part of Bovard’s job to keep up with the changing rules. “Our facility is unique in that we provide huge enclosures for our big cats to run and play, far exceeding the 10’ x 24’ enclosure required by law (for two big cats),” said Carl. “We provide daily exercise sessions to keep them healthy. More importantly, we build relationships with each of our animals.”

The next time you and your family are in Florida, contact Single Vision to make an appointment for a guided tour. Carl conducts the tours personally every day between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. (except the one day a week when he leaves to get food for the animals). Find out more about the facility and how you can help the Single Vision mission by visiting their website or Facebook page.

“I love being with the animals,” said Bovard. “I’m in it for life.”

Related Picture Books

Can We Save the Tiger? by Martin Jenkins
A Tiger Grows Up by Anastasia Suen

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.


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November 30th, 2011 at 5:00 am

Celebrate the Year of the Bat

Halloween is over, but it’s not too late to celebrate 2011-2012 as the Year of the Bat. The focus was on Europe in 2011, but the US celebration will continue throughout 2012.

I’m the first to admit that bats aren’t the cutest critters, so why should they be in the limelight for two whole years? To find out, I spoke with Brian Pope, Director of the Lubee Bat Conservancy in Gainesville, FL, one of several partners in the Year of the Bat. Brian explained that bats play a huge role in our agricultural economy.

“Here in the United States, insect-eating bats save farmers between $3 – $53 billion in insecticides,” he said. That’s billion, with a B. “They are the primary nocturnal predators of insects, protecting crops throughout the country, including cotton, corn, fruit and vegetables.”

“Fruit bats play an even larger role in the rain forests of the world,” said Brian. “They are the primary pollinators and it’s believed they are responsible for 90 percent of seed dispersal in the rain forest.”

As creatures of the night, bats are not well-understood and often shrouded in myth. “Families have no reason to fear bats,” Brian said. “They won’t attack, but they are wild animals and you should respect them. If you see a bat, leave it alone.”

Here are some interesting bat facts:

  • bats are the only flying mammals
  • bats are not blind—they have excellent vision
  • many bats use echolocation (locating and avoiding objects by bouncing sound waves off of them)
  • fruit bats, sometimes called megabats or flying foxes, do not use echolocation
  • many valuable crops rely on bats (avocados, bananas, cashews, cloves, dates, figs, mangoes and peaches, to name a few)
  • bats eat the insects that humans consider pests, saving dollars and the environment by limiting the use of pesticides
  • bats are responsible for less than 1/10th of 1% of rabies transmissions
  • there are more than 1,200 bat species worldwide, half of which are considered threatened

I asked Brian what individual families can do to help. “The number one thing you can do is educate yourself and find out about the issues facing bats,” he said. “Visit our website and zoos that have bats. Practice conservation and get involved. You can even build or buy at bat house for your yard.”

Related Picture Books

Stellaluna by Janell Cannon

Bats at the Library by Brian Lies

Photo credit: Lubee Bat Conservancy Facebook Page


Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of PeopleMike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blogas well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.

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March 30th, 2011 at 1:00 am

Party for the Planet

Every year, I think we should plan something to celebrate Earth Day on April 22, but we never do. Maybe it’s just me, but since it’s modern incarnation began in 1970, Earth Day  has seemed less of a celebration than a doomsday proclamation, and guilt has never been much of a motivator for me. It just makes me feel, well, guilty.

But this year, with the specter of radiation haunting us in the wake of the disasters in Japan, I’ve been moved to really celebrate this holiday. The ultimate power of Mother Earth over the destiny of our fragile human race has motivated me to stand up and take notice — maybe even pay a little respect.

The good news is that after more than four decades of Earth Days, there are lots of ways, big and small that we can make a difference. My favorite is called Party for the Planet™, where more than 100 zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) sponsor Earth Day celebrations, some with just a single event, and others with an entire month of activities. No guilt, just a big party for our true Home (capital H).

Check out your favorite zoo’s website for a calendar of activities, or bookmark the AZA site for a growing list of participants. For those traveling over spring break in April, keep in mind that many zoos offer reciprocity with free or reduced admissions for zoo members. Here’s a list of zoos that participate in the AZA Reciprocity Program.

For those not near enough to a local zoo to participate in Party for the Planet, the Earth Day Network offers lots of other suggestions. This year’s theme is A Billion Acts of Green®. The United Nations has proclaimed 2011 as the International Year of the Forest. Kids aged 6-14 are invited to Paint Life in a Forest, in a contest to win $2,000 and a United Nation’s sponsored trip to Indonesia for the UNEP-Tunza International Children’s Conference (deadline April 15).

Or plan your own Party for the Planet. Here’s a list of great Earth Day read alouds from my friend, fellow writer and “readiologist” Esme Raji Codell. Or create a simple Earth Day craft. Or maybe just sing along with Tom Chapin’s Happy Earth Day.

This year, let’s all celebrate Earth Day. No guilt. Just Party for the Planet.

Susan Bearman also writes at Two Kinds of People, Mike&Ollie: 24-weekers Who Beat the Odds and The Animal Store Blog, as well as being a regular contributor to The Chicago Moms and Technorati.




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