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Why this former SeaWorld ambassador is working to save lots of animals you have by no means heard of

The Chinese pangolin (Manis pentadactyla) Credit: Sarita Jnawali of NTNC – Central Zoo The United States, CC BY 2.0

In her a few years because the director of the animal ambassador packages for SeaWorld and Busch Gardens, Julie Scardina was a favourite visitor on “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno” and the “Today” present. Thanks to her excessive TV profile, the energetic animal lover introduced cute child penguins, a blanket-wrapped child gibbon and a free-flying Scarlet ibis to thousands and thousands of houses throughout America.

For her second act, the Poway, California, resident needs to place pangolins in your radar. Also painted canine, Grevy’s zebras and bonobos.

Scardina is the co-founder and president of Mission Wildlife, a San Diego-based nonprofit devoted to supporting and conserving species via fundraising and training. And within the case of an under-the-radar species just like the ant-eating pangolin, the group needs to lift consciousness about animals that might disappear earlier than many individuals even knew they have been right here.

It is a difficult job, and Scardina was born to do it.

“When I was growing up, I remember having a picture book of all of these different animals, and it was dog-eared and torn up because I was always flipping through it,” stated Scardina, who started working at SeaWorld San Diego as a coach in 1977, when she was 19. She retired in 2016.

“I just don’t remember a time when it wasn’t my main focus to be outdoors and to be around animals, and that has never changed. It has only gotten stronger as I’ve gotten older.”

Mission Wildlife was born in 2013, when Scardina organized a visit to Uganda and Kenya for herself and a few SeaWorld colleagues, together with Heather Armentrout and Julie Byford. While they have been there, the trio met with representatives from a number of animal-conservation teams. When the three animal lovers received again to San Diego, they determined to show their ardour into motion. Armentrout is now the group’s treasurer, and Byford is its secretary.

“We were supporting all of these wonderful people through larger organizations, but we wanted to do something personally for them,” Scardina stated. “After visiting these places in person, being a part of that environment, and understanding that you can make a difference by taking action, that’s when we really said, ‘We need to do this.'”

The all-volunteer Mission Wildlife had its first fundraising occasion in 2014. It introduced in about 50 attendees and raised $4,000 for Save the Elephants and Ewaso Lions. So far, the group has distributed $200,000 to a handful of beneficiaries that additionally consists of Grevy’s Zebra Trust, Lola ya Bonobo and the Cheetah Conservation Fund.

This 12 months’s most important fundraiser, which is being break up into two occasions to permit for social distancing, might be held on Oct. 2 and three at Casa de Glory, an occasion venue in Middletown. The beneficiaries are Save Pangolins and Painted Dog Conservation, and if you’re unsure what a painted canine seems to be like or what a pangolin might probably be, Mission Wildlife is right here that can assist you assist them.

Painted canine are wild canine which are discovered solely in Africa. Snares, traffic accidents and shootings have lowered the continent’s painted-dog inhabitants to fewer than 7,000. The Painted Dog Conservation in Zimbabwe is dwelling to about 700 of them.

Pangolins appear to be what would occur in the event you crossed an ant-eater with an artichoke, however their future isn’t any joke. Pangolins are killed and trafficked for his or her meat and for his or her scales, that are utilized in conventional Asian medication. Four of the eight pangolin species are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s critically endangered checklist.

“These animals have been around for about 70 million years, and the only reason they could go extinct is if humans consume them to death and poach them to extinction,” stated Paul Thomson, co-founder and govt director of Save Pangolins.

“When an organization like Mission Wildlife comes along and gives us a platform and connects us with donors and people who want to support us, it gives us a huge boost. Education and awareness is so important. I always say that you can’t save something if you don’t know it exists.”

Thomson might be attending each Mission Wildlife fundraising occasions, as will Painted Dog Conservation’s operations supervisor, David Kuvawoga. In addition to chatting up the specialists, attendees can work together with the ambassador birds and animals, bid on silent-auction objects, watch a portray efficiency by Stephen Fishwick, and absorb an animal present.

And whereas they’re having fun with their day with the animals, Mission Wildlife supporters may be a part of an even bigger, extra optimistic image. For the pangolins, the painted canine and the planet.

Just a couple of many years in the past, the American alligator and the American bald eagle have been at risk of extinction. Thanks to protections put in place by the Endangered Species Act, each the alligator and the bald eagle are off the endangered species checklist. This is an animal story Julie Scardina by no means will get uninterested in telling.

“These are two wonderful success stories that I don’t want people to forget. It’s not impossible. We can’t give up just because an animal is in severe decline,” Scardina stated. “We had to pay attention, and we had to protect them and their environment in order for them to succeed. That’s what we are trying to help these organizations to accomplish.”

Why coronavirus could help save China’s endangered species

©2021 The San Diego Union-Tribune.
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Why this former SeaWorld ambassador is working to save lots of animals you have by no means heard of (2021, September 22)
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