My wise old grandmother was a nature lover before tree huggers hit the scene. She was also a conservationist before it was fashionable to be a conservationist. I remember her constant nagging about being kind to wildlife, enjoying the outdoors, conserving our natural resources….. On and on and on.
I didn’t pay much attention when I was living under her roof, but when I set out on my own, it was amazing just how much her teachings influenced what I did and even with whom I hung.
That’s why I’m a big fan of places like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld. Have they made mistakes in the past? Sure. We all have. But without Zoos and Aquariums, 99% of the people would never get to see, and appreciate, a giraffe, an elephant, a whale, a dolphin, a tiger or lion…. There would also be many species that now would be extinct without the breeding services that zoos and aquariums offer. The California Condor comes immediately to mind, as does the Northern White Rhinoceros.
Whenever I’m out and about, I always try to visit Zoos and Aquariums to show my support, and I have an annual pass to the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego. Along with their breeding and release programs, zoos and aquariums provide rescue services. The number of seals and sea lions rescued each year by SeaWorld is amazing. One could argue that if the mom is going to abandon her pup, there must be a good reason. Maybe there is, but I’ll go with SeaWorld on that one—rescue, rehabilitate, and release.
Without the programs of the Zoo and SeaWorld, I never would have had the privilege of seeing a Bald Eagle, a Golden Eagle, a Milky Eagle Owl, or an Orca Whale.
In all my travels, I have never seen those four species outside of a Zoo or Aquarium. Of course, I know they exist in the wild, and I had an appreciation for them without seeing them because of how my wise old grandmother raised me. I don’t have to see something to know it, to understand it, to understand why it’s disappearing. Many people do, though. Every time I go to the Zoo or SeaWorld, I hear at least one person, often many many more, say in awe, “I had no idea they were so beautiful” or “I had no idea they were endangered because of us.” Those people, I hope, go home with a greater understanding of this world we live on and how we need to share it with the plants and animals around us.
As an example, recently I was up in Orange County traipsing around when I found the Pacific Marine Mammal Center.
20612 Laguna Canyon Road
Laguna Beach, California
The Pacific Marine Mammal Center is responsible for animals (mostly pinnipeds) stranded on beaches along the Orange County coast, extending north to Seal Beach and south to San Onofre. The majority of the pinnipeds rescued are severely malnourished, suffer from dehydration, and may have respiratory infections. They also treat animals that are affected by drift net entanglement, fishing lines and hooks, human inflicted injuries, shark bites, parasites, and various diseases.
The most common pinnipeds to Southern California are Northern Elephant Seals, Pacific Harbor Seals, and California Sea Lions. Occasionally, they treat Northern Fur Seals, and they are the only temporary holding facility for small whales and dolphins between Santa Barbara and San Diego.
Invariably when I visit the Zoo, SeaWorld, or, in this case, the Pacific Marine Mammal Center, I learn something new. For example, here is what I learned during my short visit to the Pacific Marine Mammal Center:
I have always loved Mylar balloons, but no more.
They are off my LIKE list and onto my NOT-IN-THIS-CENTURY-OR-THE-NEXT list.
I hope you will join me in my quest to celebrate special occasions with something other than Mylar balloons. A good meal, flowers, and toys come to mind. Maybe even just some quality time spent with those you love and are celebrating with.
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If you’re looking for a home inspector,
I recommend Russel Ray — that’s me!