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Archive: Oct 2012

  1. Galapagos 2012 Progress So Far!

    Tod Emko - President, Darwin Animal Doctors

    Hello everyone! And thanks to every single one of you who made this an absolutely amazing summer to autumn campaign for DAD in Galapagos! We have even more exciting things coming up, and are so happy to have each of you that makes it all possible.

    Since the start of our 2012 campaigns in May, we have treated over 630 animals! We sterilized and gave emergency care to hundreds of dogs and cats as board members of the Galapagos office of invasive species control on Galapagos. We treated the incalculably important Galapagos police dogs at the invitation of Sea Shepherd. Lots of DAD volunteers participated in the official sea lion census on Galapagos at the invitation of the institution of GAIAS.  We did the first major Galapagos equine veterinary campaign, and we expanded our humane education program to teach people about vital horse care, which is important not just for the horses’ health but for the health of the ecosystem they inhabit.  Local support and awareness of our work continues to grow and garner media attention in Ecuador.

    tod-dadWe can’t express how exciting this year has been so far, and all of it has been possible thanks to you! DAD became an exhibitor at animal conferences for the first time this year, where we met so many of you new DAD email newsletter members! We would like to welcome all our new friends who signed up with us at The Humane Society’s Take Action For Animals Conference, as well as all the wonderful people who signed up for us and donated to us at Animal Rights Conference in DC.  You all made a huge portion of this year’s campaign success in Galapagos possible!

    But the year isn’t over yet.  We are gearing up to finish this year solidly, with more results and educational outreach in Galapagos.  And all the way in New York City, more exciting events are happening for us.

    We are proud to announce that on November 6th, DAD will be giving an atGoogleTalks video at Google’s auditorium in New York City.  We will be addressing the Google audience about what’s happening in Galapagos, and what DAD is doing about it.

    And if any of you can make it, please come to our Sunday, November 11th LUSH Charity Pot Party at the Upper West Side Lush store!  It’ll be our end of the year event, and we and Lush are making sure you can’t leave without feeling awesome!

    The Lush Charity Pot Party will have a massage chair for charity, a Lush facial chair, a vegan bake sale with both sweet and savory foods, merchandise including hand-made jewelry from the Galapagos, videos of our work in Galapagos, and all the information you need on how the year went!

    We hope to see you there! And from all of us at DAD and the animals, thank you all for helping to save a truly amazing and unique ecosystem.

    ks4

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  2. Hurricane Sandy Animal Safety Tips

    HURRICANE SANDY NOTE: To all our readers effected by Hurricane Sandy, our hearts go out to you and we hope that you and your companion animals are all safe and sound. We’d like to pass on some animal safety tips before our regular campaign and event updates today.

    Due to Sandy, there are a LOT of downed power lines out there, many hiding among downed trees. Be extra careful when walking your dog, and make sure to stay clear of anything that looks like a downed electrical wire. Of course, keep all your cats and dogs indoors during this emergency, and heed to all prudent pet safety tips for times of crisis. Remember that there are pet-friendly safety shelters for this disaster, and check the Office of Emergency Management’s Hurricane Evacuation Zone Map, and the system will direct pet owners to the appropriate center (NYC residents can also find pet-friendly facilities by calling 311). NEVER leave your companion animals behind!

    We hope all of your animals are safe, but if your dog or cat went missing in the storm, check resources on lost Hurricane Sandy pets. If you’re in New York City, remember that it is legal in this evacuation emergency to take your companion animal onto a cab or mass transit. Also, our friends at the Animal Medical Center have informed us that despite earlier flooding yesterday, they are open and operational today to accept all animal emergencies.

    May all of you and your families be secure and comfortable during this crisis!

    Everyone at Darwin Animal Doctors

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  3. DAD Participation in the Galapagos Sea Lion Census

    Aisha Reynolds, Director of Operations and Media, Galapagos

    I have to admit I have never been a morning person. When the warm tangerine glory that is the sunrise in Galapagos spreads her spectacular wings over the sailboat lined beaches and crystal clear waters each day, my curtains are always drawn in darkness.

    But today on San Cristobal island, it is 5am, and I fling myself out of bed with uncharacteristic energy. Ignoring my body’s grumpy demand for an immediate hit of strong black South American coffee, I grab my camera, sunscreen, hat, and jog directly to my appointment at Playa Mann beach.

    p10108220Our team of volunteers at Darwin Animal Doctors have been invited by the Galapagos Institute for the Arts and Sciences (GAIAS) to participate in a dawn population count of Galapagos Sea Lions.

    GAIAS was established in 2002 by the University San Francisco de Quito, with support of the Galapagos National Park Service, the Municipality of San Cristobal, and the provincial and central governments, as part of an effort for conservation while generating sustainable development in the islands. In the past years GAIAS has become the most important educational and research entity in the archipelago, developing relationships with universities from around the world, as well as with national and international governmental and non-governmental organizations working for the conservation and sustainable development of the Galapagos.

    p10108370The Galapagos sea lion (Zalophus wollebaeki) is an endangered species of sea lion that exclusively breeds on the Galápagos islands. Being fairly social, and one of the most numerous species in the Galápagos archipelago, they are often spotted sun-bathing on sandy shores or rock groups or gliding gracefully through the surf. Their loud bark, playful nature, and graceful agility in water make them the “welcoming party” of the islands. Until today, I had only dared observe these rare creatures from afar.

    After dividing our group into teams, we all head off to our prospective locations, dotted around the small island. Most of the beachfronts where large sea lion communities live are protected by elevated fencing, to discourage tourists and stray dogs from interfering in their gregarious daily antics. But today only, we are permitted to slide under these fences to get a closer look.

    Our task is to count the number of pups, juveniles, males and females, in order to keep close track of the total number found on San Cristobal island, and ensure the survival of the species by continuing to breed, maintain health and co-habitation with humans.

    p10108420Sea lion mums are on high alert to our intrusion, at first seemingly lazy and relaxed, they have a very strong bond with their young and will fiercely protect them with vicious sounding barks if approached too closely. Pups still feeding on milk can be heard suckling greedily from a distance, so we step cautiously and respectfully around these family groupings. Alpha males, or the dominant bull, can keep an entire harem of females in their community and can grow up to 400kg (800lbs)! This dominance only lasts a few months however, before he is challenged by a newcomer. Amusingly, males who have not managed to exert their power in a group, are exiled to live in ‘Bachelor Pad’ style groups, on less appealing beaches of the Island, far away from the large harem style territory or any sign of females.

    These creatures are so entertaining, each with their own strong personality, they are playful and thoroughly enjoy diving, chasing and rolling through the waves together. We literally step over piles and piles of sea lions, as others nap and cuddle in large groups, slumped over each other and squeezed together in impossible stacks like sardines. They seem to have such affection toward one another.

    After an hour of our identification tasks, photographing and taking detailed notes, we have become quite overwhelmed with the pungent odor of masticated fish guts emitted by the sea lions, a scent one will never forget once experienced. It is finally time for that strong black coffee.

    The total population is believed to fluctuate between 20,000 to 50,000. On this count, our team leaders from GAIAS inform us that at least for now, the population is stable. But there are many threats to these endangered, rare creatures, from shark and whale predation, ocean health and overfishing, human interference and ever expanding tourist development. These crucial weekly population counts in the Galapagos can hopefully assist us in ensuring the longevity of this spectacular species forever.

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