Training the Animals in Your Life

Just for Fun

  • Eat, Pray, Love

    I don't think that divorce was the answer in Eat, Pray, Love. I think that everyone has moments of wanting to change themselves, change their dreams and change their lives. And that's ok. You are allowed to change your dreams and your spouse is supposed to support you through those changed dreams. I think that you can make those changes while still staying inside your marriage. 

    So, LIz wanted to travel. Why couldn't she have done that while she was still married? I think she took the chicken's way out and rather than fighting for her marriage, she just left. I realize that the way she chose was not easy either and I also realize that it's not my place to judge but I still think that she could have explored the world and changed herself while just being more forthcoming with her husband and taking him along on the ride as well 

    I especially think that now that she has gotten a second divorce from the man that supposedly "saved" her at the end of Eat, Pray, Love and has now become a lesbian. How many people will she choose to leave before she finds the "right one"? How many lives and hearts can she break in the quest to find herself? I think you can find yourself without hurting others. 

  • Loving It

    Today was an extraordinary day. I was sitting in my third meeting of the day and I actually thought "Wow, what a great day." Who does that?? 

    My first meeting was a departmental meeting where I learned about what is going on with the zoo and found out about the chance to help out with several of our conservation projects that are taking place around the world. 

    Then I went to an AAZK meeting to help plan Bowing for Rhinos. I am going to be the chair of that event this year. So, I get to work with a bunch of people that care as much as I do about saving Rhinos in the wild. 

    After lunch, we had a meeting where some of the keepers came and taught us about animal enrichment. It was all old news for me but it was so fun to be with the rest of my team when they learned about it and I could spend all day talking about animal behavior. 

    After work my department went out for happy hour with our director and CEO to celebrate closing our Gorilla campaign. 

    How amazing was that? Every meeting that I sit in I thouroughly enjoy. I get paid to talk about animals, animal conservation and to brainstorm ways to raise funds for animals. I feel like I am where I was meant to be all along :)

  • Have You Ever Been On A Baby Flamingo Walk?

    Forgive the Blair Witch style filiming. These baby flamingos were hand raised and are learning to live out on exhibit with the other adult flamingos. This video shows their daily walk from their behind-the-scenes enclosure to their outside exhibit so that they can get used to their future home. You can tell these guys are still babies because their feathers just look like grey fuzz right now, they haven't developed that classic pink flamingo color quite yet!

  • How A Zoo Membership Can Save You Money On Kid’s Activities This Summer

    Most zoos, wildlife parks, animal rehab centers and even state parks offer some sort of membership deal. The question is, is the membership worth it?

    I’m here to tell you why it is worth it and how to get your money’s worth.

    1. You and your family get in for free as many times as you want. This means you can run to the zoo for a couple of hours on a Saturday and not force your tired kids to stick it out the whole day to feel like you are getting your money’s worth. Show up at the zoo, see some monkeys, grab a snow cone and head home.

    2. Deep discounts on all educational programs. These programs are far underutilized.  Check out your local zoo, I bet they have ten classes that you don’t even know about. There are mommy-and-me animal programs, overnight animal camps, night-time prowl the zoo safaris, birthday parties with live animals, behind-the-scenes tours, speaker’s series with big names like Jack Hannah, Jeff Corwin and Jane Goodall. All of these can be free or majorly discounted for your kids and family. Your kids will remember these experiences for the rest of their lives and will have no idea that it was almost free.

    Image courtesy of Wikimedia commons

    3. On top of the educational classes, you also get invited to special events. Most zoos have a Halloween spectacular or a Christmas light parade. Some have “member mornings” where you can have breakfast while they bring out cuddly animals for you and your children to touch and take pictures with. There also is probably an annual gala with live animals that you will get invited to. These are super fun and they usually bring out the show-stopping animals at these (such as cheetahs!)

    4. Get your kids connected to nature. Many zoos now have a“nature swap” program that your kids can participate in. Your kids can scour their yard or the local park for nature items to “swap” at the zoo. They get points for these items which can be added up to “purchase” an even cooler item, such as a huge conch shell or a geode. With your membership, you can return to the zoo anytime your kids find an item without having to shell out any cash.

    5. When friends and family come into town and you feel like you need to entertain them, you have a perfect money-saving option right at the zoo. Your family will get in for free and you will get discounts on your friends and families admission. Pack a picnic lunch, pay a minimal amount for guest tickets and enjoy the day.

    A zoo membership has done wonderful things for my family and I hope it does the same for yours.

  • Pictures with Parrots

    Pictures with Parrots





    The pictures above show my husband and I posing with a Macaw on our recent trip to Key West, Florida. I have to admit that I was completely against paying to have my picture taken with the bird when I first saw the man walking the streets in Key West. My first thought was that the man was exploiting the bird to make a profit and that I have worked with Macaws and couldn't possibly need to pay to spend time with one.

    I was so wrong! A friend of ours was walking with us and coerced us into posing to have our picture taken. The owner of the bird showed us his USDA license and spent at least twenty minutes with us just talking about his birds. I left thinking that these birds actually have a pretty great life compared to most parrots that are just left in a cage all day.

    This man had these parrots extremely well trained, in fact, I've never worked with a macaw (I've worked with four different individuals) that wouldn't try to bite someone at least occasionally. This bird was very calm and gladly sat on our shoulders or our heads. His owner gave him a signal and he knew how to put his beak to your cheek for the photo.

    The man also knew his birds well enough to know that one of his birds liked to be out at night, while the other got agitated at night and did much better during the day. The man would keep each bird out for a couple of hours and then switch it out for some rest.

    With these birds being this man's major source of income he most likely took very good care of them. The fact that the birds get so much socialization and see so much activity in a day has to make for a better life than being stuck in a cage somewhere.

    The man charged $15 for his time (I paid him $20 but probably would have paid him more if I had any more cash on me) and it was well worth it. He is able to educate people about parrots all day.

    I know that there are plenty of people out there that would be completely against something like this but I just wanted to share that you should probably look into something before you judge.

  • Rythmic Ability In A California Sea Lion

    This video is absolutely amazing. While it is enjoyable and comical to watch this sea lion 'dance' to the music, it also is a great finding for modern science and animal behaviorists. Until this study, animal behaviorists have maintained that the only animals that are able to keep a beat are humans and animals capable of voice mimicry. This would include parrots and some other birds. This study shows that other animals are capable of recognizing a beat in music.

    What this says to me is that we have been asking questions of animals that they do not understand. Once this sea lion, named Ronan, was taught to bob its head to one song, it quickly caught on and was able to bob its head to multiple songs with multiple different beats. Sea lions do not grow up learning how to 'dance' from other sea lions, so how can humans expect them to 'dance' without being taught?

    I think that if the people doing these studies can figure out new ways to let the animals know what we are asking of them, that we will quickly find that animals are much smarter than scientists once thought.

    To read more about this study and how it was performed, click here.

  • Photos of Wild About Dolphins, Key West
    This photo of Wild About Dolphins is courtesy of TripAdvisor

    This Is The Life



    Wow, this is the life, huh? I came across this photo while researching for our upcoming trip to Key West, Florida.I love how happy the dog looks. What an awesome life!

    Photo courtesy of Trip Advisor.

  • So Long Student Loan #2!

    So long student loan #2 at 10.310% variable interest! Never EVER again! Two loans down and two to go. I honestly never thought I would be able to pay this one off. There have been a LOT of sacrifices along the way and there are more to come... there is light at the end of the tunnel though. Thanks Dave Ramsey for teaching us about babysteps.

    In honor of another student loan biting the dust, we have my favorite Youtube video. Snowball the Cockatoo dancing to Queen's Another One Bites The Dust.

    Enjoy :)

  • The Cost of Working with Animals

    Today's post was inspired by an article written by David Segal for the New York Times. This article is long but it contains a lot of valuable information for those considering becoming a vet. Click here for the full article.

    I think that it is is extremely sad that anyone that wants to work with animals gets paid so little. The cost of becoming a vet is extremely high while the starting salaries are relatively average for the general work force. DVMs are coming out of school with their debt to income ratio at 3:1. That is insane.

    Photo courtesy of wikicommons

    In the article, Segal states that the need for vets is declining in this country. While there are communities that are in desperate need of vets, most of the people in those communities are unable to afford vet care. A vet can see a need in a small, rural community and move there to open a practice, only to find out that the people coming to see them cannot afford to pay. I'm sure that the vet wants to help and offer their services for free, but with student loan debt approaching $300,000, they are not really in a position to do so. This reminds me of the book Water for Elephants, when the main character is left with nothing after his parents die because his dad was a vet and had been accepting vegetables from people's gardens for payment.

    I think there needs to be a total overhaul of all animal related jobs. Choosing to work with animals should not be a financial death sentence. Sure, you can choose not to go to school and try to get a job working at a zoo (not as a vet) but most job postings nowadays specify that a bachelor's degree is preferred and desired. With the amount of competition for all zoo jobs, it might take a while to land a zoo job without a degree. The reality is that most zoo professionals are highly educated, highly skilled individuals. Long gone are the days when zookeepers were all burly men hired only to do physical labor. The zookeeping profession now involves daily animal training, enrichment and behavioural studies as well as knowing the warning signs of animal illnesses.

    If you are able to come out of school with no debt then you can probably survive on these salaries. I know that people with debt still survive on these salaries but they often have credit collectors knocking on their door. Personally, I don't want to just survive, I want to get ahead and therefore had to leave the zoo profession, at least until I get my student loans paid off. People working with animals either need to be paid more or there needs to be more education about not taking out student loans for school. Something has got to change.

  • Saving for a Dream

    I find it slightly comical that there is an article for "How to Start an Animal Sanctuary". I truly didn't expect to find that. For me, this is my life long dream and everything that my husband and I do is in preparation for this. 

    Our first step is to live a debt free lifestyle influenced by Dave Ramsey. For us, this means paying off all of our student loans. We still have at least two years until they are paid off and then we will have to start saving to purchase land. It's going to be a long process but I can't imagine doing anything more fulfilling. 

    What about you? Have you ever saved for a dream? 

  • Annual Eye Exam

    So when I went to Texas A&M I had a Wildlife class that required us to volunteer at the Texas A&M sheep and goat center. This is a facility where they raise livestock for experimental purposes. Now before you start picturing three headed goats, let me explain that it's not that kind of facility. They conduct research here to help the animals and the livestock raising process. For example, they study how cattle-moving techniques can be improved to cause less stress to the animals. They also do genetic testing. 

    One day I got to witness someone doing an experiment for their thesis. This particular experiment involved blowing a puff of air into a goat's eye. The goat was strapped in to a grooming stand with a tiny tube aimed at its eye. The maching would let out a beeping sound and then blow a tiny puff of air through the tube. The purpose of the experiment was to measure the reaction time of the goat and to see if it ever learned to associate the beeping sound with the puff of air and learn to close its eye from the beep alone. This was a variation of the Pavlov's Dogs experiment. 

    I remember watching this goat and thinking that I would hate to have that done to me. My eyes are so sensitive anyway that I can't imagine having a puff of air blown into them over and over. I didn't realize that they do this to humans, until I went to my first eye doctor's appoitment. 

    As a test against glaucoma they make you put your face in this machine that blows a puff of air into your eye and then measures the pressure to make sure you don't have glaucoma. I am absolutely horrible at sitting still and not blinking for this machine! As soon as I realized what was going to happen my brain just went into overdrive and I kept asking myself why I would willingly put my head in this machine and keep my eyes open. "Are you stupid?" I asked myself. "Why would you sit here like that goat and let them cause your eyes pain?". 

    The attendant tried over and over and after about 8 tries we finally got readings from both eyes. When I went back for my appointment the next year, it was even worse. I was nervous just going into the room where this air puff machine was. I couldn't sit still and kept involuntarily backing away. She finally had to bring someone else into the room and let them try. We did better when she let me close my eyes until she was ready to press the button. 

    I don't know where I'm going with this story but I just wanted to share that I felt like a goat at my eye exam. and that my wildlife education has ruined glaucoma testing for me. 

  • How To Follow Your Life's Passions

    I’m on this road trying to figure out this thing called life. I’m doing research, I’m studying other people’s life experiences and stories and trying to carve out my story and figure out my life’s path. I feel a calling, but I can’t figure out what the calling is for. I know the big-picture answer. I know what my passion is. What I can’t figure out is how I am supposed to make that a viable business opportunity.

    Do you ever feel this way?

    I feel like I have most things in my life nailed down. I have a wonderful husband. Seriously. He’s the most perfect husband in the world for me and God was thinking big when he created us for each other. He is perfect for me in ways I didn’t know was possible. I have a good life. I love where we are living right now, I love that we are on the road to pay off all of our debt and to eventually buy several acres of land. I love our friends and family. Things are good. So I guess that I just need to trust that the Lord will bring me that same level of goodness in regards to my life’s passion. I just need to wait. But what should I be doing in the mean time? How do I develop my skills now and get ready for what is coming? How do I find my niche and find the people that will support me to seeing my goals through to completion?

    The only answer I have for myself is to trust. Trust the Lord and trust his timing. Trust that me fumbling along with this blog is the right thing for this moment. Trust that He has all the answers.

    What is the right answer for you? Do you feel the call to turn your life’s passions into a viable business? What are you doing to make it happen? If you have already done so, how did you make it happen?

  • Rhinos

    Did you know that Rhinos have personalities? Each one is distinctly different. In this particular group of Rhinos, there was one that loved to play tag. We would run down the fenceline and he would run as fast as he could to chase you. (Don't worry, we were on the outside of the fence). Then he would run back. The rest of the Rhinos could care less about running. The Rhino below loved to be brushed and scratched. My friend Ashley let me come hang out with them one day. (Note: If you ever get to scratch a big animal like this, make sure that your arms are never between the animal and the bars. They can accidentally lean against the bars and trap your arms)

    Did you know that Rhinos love to be brushed? 

    In the next shot, can you see him bending his back leg kinda like a dog does when they like where you are scratching?

    Sitting down so he can get more scratches

    You keep going, I'm just going to take a nap while you keep scratching.....

    That's the spot, I'll just close my eyes.....

    Slobbery lips

    How about a snack Mom? 

  • Elephant and Dog- Best Buds

    This brought tears to my eyes. This elephant and dog have become best friends. This speaks to the depth of animals, they are pretty amazing. 

    Also, this woman is living the dream. An elephant sanctuary, how wonderful! 

  • Review of Fossil Rim Wildlife Center

    A friend of mine is going to Fossil Rim Wildlife Center at the end of this month and she asked me for a review as well as suggestions on restaurants. I thought this might be valuable information to anyone else that is considering taking a trip to Fossil Rim. 

    I was an intern at Fossil Rim in 2009 and you can learn a lot about a place when you live there for three months. 

    Fossil Rim is in Glen Rose, Texas which is a little small town, but you can stay on property at Fossil Rim! They have a few different options including tents that are right by the watering hole (Lion King, anyone?) as well as The Lodge which is all sorts of cool. As an intern, I used to sign-up to stay overnight at the lodge when they had overnight guests. That extra 30 dollars in my paycheck was a lifesaver! 

    Anyway, you can also just drive up for the day and drive through the park. Fossil Rim is unique because the humans are the ones in the cage while the animals are free. Imagine going on an African safari. That is what Fossil Rim is like (although you must remain in your vehicle). Please do not be the people that got out and set out a picnic blanket so that they could have a picnic near the giraffes and wildebeasts. (A giraffe kick can knock the head off of a lion, what do you think they could do to you?) Also, don't be the people that feed McDonald's chicken nuggets and french fries to the animals. Surprise, the animals won't even eat it! They are so well fed here on GOOD food that when people offer them crazy things they often won't even take it. The keepers find whole McDonald's meals on the ground at the end of the day. 

    Besides, you are fully allowed to feed the animals as long as you buy feed from the giftshop before you start. The feed is only a few dollars, as is the admission to get in. Once you are in, you can stay as long as you like. 

    He looks thrilled to be my friend. Don't you think? 

    In the middle of the drive you will come to a place called The Overlook. Make sure you stop and get out here. There is a restaurant, gift shop, a SPECTACULAR view (see below) as well as the Children's Animal Center (CAC)! The CAC is where I worked. Please go say hello to my animals for me. :) 

    If you are staying overnight and you need a place to go get dinner, check out the restaurants below. Also, most of these places don't have websites, small town and all, so just type them into google and give them a call to make sure they will be open. 

    I have several places to recommend. The restaurant where we always went as interns is called Loco Coyote. They have amazingly huge hamburgers (seriously, as big as your head) and they are fantastic. The margaritas were really good too. It's very country but lots of fun.
    1795 County Road 1004
    Glen Rose, Texas
    If you want something a little more upscale there is a restaurant in an old historic house that is really neat. I went here with my Mom and brother when they came to visit. Picture below. It is called Riverhouse Grill. 
    210 SW Barnard St. 
    Glen Rose, Tx 76043

    I also highly recommend Pie Peddlers for dessert. This pie shop is run by local teachers and has been named the "best pie" by all sorts of magazines and ratings. 
    102 Walnut St. 
    Glen Rose, Texas 
    I searched around and couldn't find operating times for any of these. If you find that they are all closed on a Monday night, I recommend driving to the slightly bigger city of Granbury and heading to the square. There are tons of restaurants there that will be open and I know there is a fun wine bar there as well. 
    Share pictures with me if you go! Also, invite me if you go! 

Hi! I'm Brittany and I started this blog to share my love of animals and to try and help save them in the wild. 

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