Thursday, September 4, 2014


A few weeks ago we began a fundraising campaign on Go Fund Me for two tricked-out GoPro cameras and gear.  We wanted to keep one here at RSCF and use the other to capture video at some of our field stations overseas.  This was our first online fundraiser we are thrilled to say that as of yesterday THE CAMPAIGN IS FULLY FUNDED!  Yipee!

Thanks so much to all who supported this effort--we will be ordering cameras and gear ASAP, then the real fun begins!  Delilah cams, Mico cams, footage from the rainforest, and so much more!

We could not do the work we do without public support.  We want you all to know just how much your support means to us and that we are deeply grateful for it.  We'll keep you posted and will be posting video soon!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Comings and Goings and Catch Up!

Come rain or shine, you gotta feed the bongo!
Wow, it's been waaaay too long since we have posted here on the RSCF blog!  That's what happens when you are caring for a few hundred critters every day!  It's been a HOT and STEAMY 2014.  Our rainy season (June through November) has been "normal" for the first time in years.  That means many, many days of 90 degree heat and near 100% humidity.  We've been getting afternoon showers nearly every day, the normal weather pattern for this time of year, and have been flooded on more than one occasion!  Great for the plants and animals, not so great for the staff who have to wade and work through it every day.  And the MOSQUITOS ARE OFF THE CHARTS!  For those of you who have never visited south Florida in the high summer be aware--our mosquitos are FIERCE!  For the first time a quite a few years all our staff members have had to use natural bug sprays almost every day.  We try to use bug repellents with natural ingredients like citronella, clove, lemongrass and lavender.  It smells much better, and the animals don't freak out when you get near them. 

Our 2014 baby season has been in overdrive, with eight baby bongo antelope on the ground right now, along with our orphan bongo baby, Delilah.  For those who do not follow us on Facebook, Delilah was born on Thanksgiving 2013.  Her mom died giving birth to her so we hand reared her.  She is amazing, we lover her, and she is growing like a weed.  Soon she will be introduced to our group of juvenile bongo, and will become part of the herd.  Until then, we are spoiling her rotten.  Her favorite treat on the planet is banana.  She will do ANYTHING for a banana, as you can see.  She has become a bit of a celebrity here at RSCF...who can resist those ears?  The short video below tells her story, which is by no means finished.  We'll do our best to keep you updated...

Our juvenile bongo herd.
We also rasied five baby red-browed Amazon chicks this year, who are all weaned and ready for outside enclosures.  We are waiting for some cooler weather to start introducing them to flight enclosures, to lessen the threat of heat related stress.  Soon they will be outside full time. 

Sara VanOstrand with some babies!
One of the most exciting events to happen at RSCF in 2014 is our new partnership with Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo.  We partnered with LP, with the help of Miami's Batchelor Foundation, to create exhibits on and off site at LP specifically for red-brows.  They are the first zoo in North America to exhibit the species and as of July 11, 2014, 18 red-brows from RSCF are now residing at the zoo.  Beautiful on and off-site exhibits have been built, with six red brows on exhibit and two groups off exhibit (six and eight respectively).  The goal is to establish a breeding colony at LP to compliment our breeding pairs here at RSCF.  If you are in Tampa, please stop by and tell our birds HELLO!  We are in the process of creating a documentary about the program--in the meantime the short video below gives you some idea of the process.  It's exciting, scary and a milestone program achievement for RSCF and Lowry Park.  We are so grateful to the staff at RSCF and Lowry Park for working so hard to make this happen!!!

Speaking of staff, we have some new faces here at RSCF.  Our team welcomed summer intern and volunteer Genevieve Schave.  Genny is a student at the University of Florida and spent her summer break with us.  She has written a short summary of her experience with us--shared below.  We just sent her back to school last week and were sad to see her go.  Thanks for all the hard work, Genny, we hope to see you over your winter break!!!!

Genny with Dee-Dee, our golden-headed lion tamarin.
Genny's Journal: 
You Want Mealworms With That?
My Time at the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation

Before my spring semester of college ended, I started filling out applications for typically routine summer jobs. When I settled back in at home, I heard about the Rare Species Conservatory Foundation and immediately made contact with Karen. Shortly after, I began working at the Conservatory five days a week and knew I had found the place I was meant to be. I’ve grown up with animals and couldn’t even begin to imagine a life without them. Rare Species Conservatory Foundation has granted me the opportunity to grow and add to my knowledge of animals. Some of the best friends I’ve made are living at Rare Species. Each day I noticed more and more personality traits show from the animals that were learning to accept me as part of the team.  Our little Ninita, a Pygmy Marmoset, tested my buttons day after day to see if she could escape for an adventure. I often had to convince her to stay with a toothbrush and a soft belly scratch. Our famous troublemaker Caiques, Zach and Bonnie, loved to play chicken for their food bowl each day, but were grateful when the job was done and grapes plentiful. So, while my friends from school spent the summer serving us humans, I spent my time giving to those who really appreciate it.

With worms on the side,

Genevieve Schave

While we said goodbye to Genny, we welcomed Stephanie Howard to our Keeper Team.  Stephanie is a graduate of Sante Fe Teaching Zoo in Gainesville, FL.  Stephanie has volunteered and interned at a variety of wildlife faciliteis, including spending several months caring for tigers and other large cats!  While we don't have tigers here at RSCF, Stephanie has already made friends with our local kitties--who all think they are tigers.  Welcome Stephanie!!

Stephanie with one of our FIERCE carnivores...
In fact, we need to introduce all our staff and volunteers, so that will be our next blog post.  See you soon!!!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What a NIGHT!

Well, our 7th annual wildlife art show, Wild Things, was a WILD SUCCESS! We had such fun on Sunday, February 10th. The show was bigger and better than ever. 20 artists from around the country came out to show works inspired by wildlife, and boy was the work STUNNING. Photography, pottery, sculpture, fine jewelry, mixed media, stone carving, metal work, weaving, and so much more! We even had live art performances including work by Anthony Burks and body painting by Becky Osborne- Phillips. 25% of show sales will be donated to RSCF in support of our wildlife conservation programs. We can't thank these generous artists enough! And special thanks to Gisela and Howald Pferdekamper for hosting the show on their property in Gisela's amazing converted barn/studio. A beautiful setting! Thanks also to special guest Tami Hoag (New York Times bestselling author and dressage competitor), Julie Pickens of International Polo Club and the Wanderers Club Wellington (for the DELICIOUS food!!!), and Cheryl Wise of Busch Wildlife Sanctuary for bringing beautiful creatures to mingle with our guests. 

 RSCF staff busted their butts for this show as well and we thank Rick Cohen (not only for being a great RSCF animal care giver, but also for playing acoustic guitar and mandolin all night!), Keith Briant, Angel Bucca, Genevieve Peterson, and Suzy Berkowitz. And, let's not forget our volunteers! Eva Sjodin, Amanda Burke (both former RSCF staff that we can't really let go...), Raquel Revuelta, Jeanette Hickman, and Tessa. Last but certainly not least, thanks so much to our participating artists--Anthony Burks, Mindy Colton, Mark Davis, EarthArt by Mary and Teri, Jill Elisofon, Norman Gitzen, Jackie Harris, Maria Hayden, Janet Heaton, Jean Hutchison, Sasha Lickle, Donatella Linari, Greg Matthews, Karen McGovern, Rollin McGrail, Melinda Moore, Becky Osborne-Phillips, Gisela Pferdekamper, and Jessie Williams.

Here is a link to photos from the night!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Wild Things is on the WAY!!!

Mark your calendars, folks!  Our 7th annual wildlife art show, Wild Things, is just around the corner!  This show gets bigger and better every year.  So much in store, including fantastic wildlife inspired art from around the country, animal guests courtesy of Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, live music by Rick Cohen, live art performances throughout the night and so much more.  Special guest Tami Hoag (New York Times bestselling author) will be joining us, and our sponsors include the International Polo Club Palm Beach and the Wanderers Club Wellington.  Participating artists donate 25 % of sales to RSCF, so come and buy some amazing art!  Opening night is February 10, from 5 - 10 PM.  The show will also be open Monday, February 11 from 11:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and Tuesday, February 12 by appointment.  See you there!!!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Mico's Big Day!

Mico the Mighty Marmoset celebrated his sixth birthday on April 1. Thanks to all that posted birthday wishes on his Facebook page! If you haven't discovered Micos page on FB, please do so! Just put Mico Mighty Marmoset in the search box, or click here. When you find his page, be sure to "Like" him!

So, for Micos big day, we celebrated with a blueberry mealworm mini-muffin cake (everyone's favorite, right?) topped with strawberry yogurt frosting. We wanted to share the day with you, so we put together this slideshow of images. As you can see, Mico really loves cake. I mean, REALLY.

No, we didn't let him eat the entire thing--but believe me, he would have!

Monday, February 27, 2012

We're Baaaaack!

Wow, it's been waaaaay too long since we've updated our blog!  Please forgive the absence, we've been so busy!  But, no excuses, we'll be much better at keeping you updated from now on. 

So, let's much has been happening!  Let's start with some staff updates.  We have two new keepers on staff that you haven't met, Suzie Berkowitz and Rick Cohen.  Suzie is a devout animal lover, and has been working with exotics almost her entire adult life.  One of her passions is environmental enrichment, and since her arrival at RSCF, our parrots and primates are thrilled to find special browse--greens, flowers, plants, pine cones, you name it--in their enclosures on a regular basis.  Rick is a craftsman and musician.  He can build just about anything with his hands.  This comes in very handy when building new enclosures, and he's become very familiar with hog ring pliers and wire cutters in his short time with us.  Rick's passions include art and music, and generously played acoustic guitar during our annual fundraiser and art show, Wild Things, held February 5th.  More on that later....

Now, farm news.  2011 was a fantastic year for our bongo antelope.  We had NINE babies in the group by January 2012!  This brings our total to 29, and it is amazing to see.  Bongo raise thier calves communally, and all the babies stick together in a group.  There are bongo everywhere!!!  We are also establishing new breeding groups around Florida on private ranches, and have sent seven adults out since January.  We plan to move more in the coming months.  Bongo ranching will help us build a pool of animals for shipment to Africa, as part of RSCF's Bongo repatriation program.  For more on that, click here.  We will, one day soon, see bongo living wild on Mount Kenya!!!

No farm report would be complete without a Mico Mighty Marmoset update.  Mico, as you know, is a world-famous figure now.  Be sure to visit his facebook page and "like" him.  He's continually visited by new folks, and is fat and happy.  Nothing makes him happier than a visit with new humans.  His roomate, Trixie, is also well, but wants nothing to do with all the visitors.  She takes extremely good care of Mico, grooming him all day.  What a life!  In other pygmy marmoset news, we have an extremely productive family group that welcomed twins not too long ago.  This brings this family's number to seven.  Pygmys trive in large family groups, and the babies learn how to be parents by caring for thier younger siblings.  RSCF staff veterinarian PJ Deitschel has been taking some great photos as seen here.  In fact, we'll be posting a new farm photo every Monday, so stay tuned!!!

The aviary is quiet for now, but the breeding season is just around the corner.  The red browed Amazons usually begin laying eggs in mid March, so the countdown is on!  Last year's babies are doing fine, in their large,free-flight aviary.  We are continuing to develop joint programming with organizations in Brazil to develop captive breeding programs there, with the hope of returing red brows to Brazil soon.  In the meantime, we prepare for this year's babies....and get ready for hand feeding round the clock! 

We also have a visitor in our clinic...a green cheeked Amazon parrot from the ferel flock on Palm Beach.  This little guy broke his wing somehow, and a generous good samaritan brought him to our attention.  Turns out he's one of the babies we banded last year.  After a visit with avian vet Susan Clubb, his wing is wrapped and he is recuperating nicely.  The break was clean, so we hope he will be flying free again soon.

February was an exciting month, with our annual wildlife art show, Wild Things, held February 5th.  What a great event!  Aritists from around the country came to show and sell wildlife inspired art of all kinds.  20% of the sales was donated to RSCF.  We partner with Busch Wildlife Sanctuary for this event, and they brought amazing creatures to mingle with the guests.  Artist Georgette Pressler of Devious Body Art transformed a model into a beautiful parrot....stunning!  Beef Wellington Steakhouse and Social Club provided delicious passed foods, and our hosts Gisela and Howald Pferdekamper created the perfect studio space for the show.  Special guest Tami Hoag (New York Times bestselling author) was our Mistress of Ceremonies and we all had a blast!!  Click here for a slideshow of images from the night...what an amazing evening! 

Whew, that's enough for now.  We promise more updates!!!  Till then, be kind to yourselves and all the wild creatures around you!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weekend Activities...Bongo on the Move

This past Saturday, November 12, we moved 2.1 bongo (two males, one female) to a partner facility in Martin County.  The photos here document the move and all the excitement that goes with this sort of event.  It takes a great team (thanks to Dr. Mark Davis, his tech Kelly, HC Ranch team, and RSCF staff members), coordination, and LOTS of muscle! 

RSCF bongo are kept in large, open acre pens (5 acres or more).  RSCF director, Dr. Paul Reillo, and Dr. Mark Davis ride out on an ATV to dart the animals with a tranquilizer.  Then, another team goes in on an ATV with a trailor to transport the animals out of the pens and to the transport truck.  There, Dr. Davis takes blood samples, vaccinates and ear tags each bongo, while still asleep on the trailer.  Finally, a reversal drug is administered and the bongo wakes up. 

Thanks to all for the great teamwork.  Our bongo are now at their new home, and will be the nexus for a new breeding group.  We plan to send several more to the facility and will keep you posted with more photos and video.  For more information about RSCF's bongo programs, be sure to visit our website!