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Give the Gift of Hope to Wildlife this Valentine’s Day

By Lavanya Sunkara
February 8, 2012
File under: Conservation, Education, Nature, Wildlife

“The animal kingdom is in critical condition. The affliction isn’t a disease, but rather a crisis of endangerment that threatens to wipe out many of the world’s animal species forever. Ironically, the only species capable of saving these animals is the same one that’s responsible for putting them in danger.”
~ Jeff Corwin 100 Heartbeats: The Race to Save Earth’s Most Endangered Species

It may be hard to admit, but every one of us has played a part in putting the precious animals we share this planet with in peril. The paper we write on, the furniture we use, the homes we live in comes from wood from clear-cut forests, leaving countless animals homeless. The cruises we take leave the oceans polluted and hurt marine life. Circuses perpetuate animal abuse. Tourism industries in many countries rely on …read more of Give the Gift of Hope to Wildlife this Valentine’s Day here

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Kids Connect! Going Batty!

By Christine DePetrillo
December 9, 2011
File under: Education, Wildlife


I happen to love bats. I think they’re adorable. You?

Fruit Bat

Just look at him, all wrapped up in his wings. So cute. It’s okay if you don’t agree, but here are some bat facts that may make you appreciate our leathery winged friends even if you don’t find them cuddly.

  • Some bats are the size of a jellybean, while others have a wingspan as long as an average human.
  • Bats have perfectly good eyes for daylight, so the expression “blind as a bat” isn’t really accurate. What bats don’t have is night vision, which hinders their nighttime hunting. …read more of Kids Connect! Going Batty! here
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Extinction of Vietnamese Javan Rhino Confirmed

By Rhishja Larson
November 23, 2011
File under: Black Market, Conservation, Education, Poaching, Wildlife

Photo © WWF-Greater Mekong

A tragic loss for the wildlife community, our planet, and future generations: The extinction of the Javan rhino subspecies, Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus, has been confirmed by WWF and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF).

DNA match

The horrible story began last year, on April 29th, when the body of a female Javan rhino was found in Cat Tien National Park, Vietnam – the last location of Rhinoceros sondaicus annamiticus.

She had been shot and her horn was removed.

Dung samples collected during a 2009/2010 WWF survey were subsequently analyzed at Queen’s University, Canada, and it was determined that they belonged to just one rhino.

Unfortunately, the samples …read more of Extinction of Vietnamese Javan Rhino Confirmed here

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­Kids Connect! Scientific Greatness: Dr. Jane Goodall

By Christine DePetrillo
November 22, 2011
File under: Animal Protection, Conservation, Education, Research, Wildlife

There are many people who have changed our world with their discoveries. Dr. Jane Goodall is one of those people. Here’s why.

Even at an early age Jane Goodall loved nature. In 1957 she went to Africa for the first time. There she met Louis S. B. Leakey, famous archaeologist and paleontologist. Impressed with her interest and knowledge, he hired her as an assistant then asked her to study a group of chimpanzees in Tanzania with the hope of learning more about our own evolutionary past.

Her first weeks at Gombe were frustrating. The chimpanzees shied away from her, so she had to study them from a peak where she could observe what they did with her binoculars. Her notes revealed many things formerly unknown about chimps. For example, it was thought that chimps were vegetarians. Goodall saw them hunting and eating small mammals. …read more of ­Kids Connect! Scientific Greatness: Dr. Jane Goodall here

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Proud Spirit Dogs: A Photo Essay

By Lavanya Sunkara
November 15, 2011
File under: Animal Stories, Conservation, Education, Nature, Wildlife

There are plenty of people who tirelessly work to save unwanted and abused animals. I recently got an opportunity to spend time with two of them. Melanie Sue Bowles and Jim Bowles, founders of the Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary, are retired professional fire firefighters who have been saving abandoned and neglected horses for the past 20 years, They have intervened on behalf of nearly 400 horses, and continue to do so.

Over the years, they’ve also opened their hearts and home to plenty of dogs that have found their way into their lives. All of them either abandoned, or locked up in shelters or sent to the vet as puppies because they didn’t meet breed standards. Today, all 13 of their dogs live harmoniously in the house and share the affection of their owners with 58 horses and donkeys in Mena, Arkansas. The horses and donkeys run freely on 320 acres of their property near the Ouachita Mountains. The dogs, however, never leave Melanie and Jim.

As a dog lover, I can never understand how someone can abuse or carelessly abandon their dogs. These innocent animals, some of them very young, diseased or elderly cannot fend for themselves. While most of them suffer due to no fault of their own, some fortunate ones who get rescued by organizations or good-natured people like Melanie and Jim get a second chance and find loving homes.

My time at the Proud Spirit Horse Sanctuary will always remain one of my favorites. Never have I seen so much love, and experienced the joy of being around so many happy animals. That’s the beauty of animals- no matter what they’ve been through- they respond in kind and are loyal to those who care for them. “All they want is some food and love,” says Jim Bowles, petting a dog that Melanie had rescued the first morning I was there. In addition to providing home to so many dogs, the husband and wife team have also helped place dozens of rescued dogs with forever homes.

One of the recent additions to the Bowles’ household is the beautiful dog pictured here with me. His name is Winston, a pitbull mix named after Winston Churchill. He was the size of a rabbit when Melanie and Jim found him and his littermates on the side of the road near their ranch, scared, starving, and covered in fleas and ticks. Melanie was able to find homes for Winston’s siblings, but he became a part of their family and quickly adjusted to the lifestyle with the rest of the dogs. During my stay, Winston followed me everywhere, and was super sweet (as you can tell from the picture). He was full of energy, and never tired of playing with his furry friends.

While I loved all the dogs at the Sanctuary, one in particular stole my heart. Her name is Trudi, a small beagle mix that resembled my own puppy. There was never a moment I could sit on the couch or the porch without Trudi running up and sitting on my lap and showering me with kisses. Melanie and Jim found Trudi, and her sisters Daisy and Trixie as puppies in a ditch with a box of adult dog food next to them that they could barely eat. Today, all three sisters, although the smallest of the bunch, know how to assert themselves. In the picture below, you’ll see little Trudi having a “conversation” with one of the donkeys of Proud Spirit.

Then, there are the fluffball corgis, who with their little legs would climb up to my knees and plead for attention with their curious wide eyes. Most of them are rescued from shelters, and animal hospitals where they were sent to be euthanized because they weren’t “perfect” purebred puppies. One has a blue right eye, another a left blue eye, and another has a floppy ear. Luckily, their imperfections don’t come in the way of how much love they give.

The most captivating story of all of them is that of big Louis. Jim and Melanie’s friends found Louis near death in Florida. He was emaciated, with gun pellets in his body, and suffering from heartworm disease. The Bowles’ friends cared for him, and tried to get him adopted. When no one came forward, Melanie drove all the way to bring him home to Arkansas.

Louis, named after Louis Zamperini, World War II hero written about in Unbroken, has definitely been through his share of suffering for most of his life. Today, he is a much loved member of the Proud Spirit family. He has fully recovered from his ailments, and bounced back to health. Towering over the rest of the dogs, Louie is very possessive of Jim and makes sure no other dogs come near him, but there is plenty of love to go around for all of them.

In the endearing picture below, you’ll see Louis nuzzling his best friend’s ear. “Every dog must be loved this much,” says Melanie, with tears in her eyes and a smile on her face.

How to Help

  • Purchase The Dogs of Proud Spirit book by Melanie Sue Bowles for more true stories about the Proud Spirit dogs. All proceeds go towards the Sanctuary and rescue work.
  • Visit to learn more and make a donation.
  • Before you buy from a breeder, consider rescuing instead. Visit or your local shelter to find your next best friend.
  • Hug a dog or two, it’ll do you some good.


Connect with other species on Jeff Corwin Connect


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Kids Connect! Wild Meows

By Christine DePetrillo
September 20, 2011
File under: Children, Education, Endangered Species, Research, Wildlife

How many of you love cats? I do. I have two, a black one and a striped one, and they are so much fun to play with and watch. Many of the behaviors they engage in are exactly the same as our planet’s BIG cats, such as lions and tigers. Unfortunately, unlike domestic cats that we keep as pets, wild cat numbers are decreasing.

Let’s take a look at the four big cats.


Wild lions currently exist in sub-Saharan Africa and in Asia. …read more of Kids Connect! Wild Meows here

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Students in Nepal Take Rhino Conservation Awareness by the Horns!

By Rhishja Larson
August 11, 2011
File under: Children, Conservation Groups, Education, Research, Wildlife

Rhino conservation efforts in Nepal received a big boost in awareness, thanks to the formation of “Eco-Clubs” in schools located in the Chitwan National Park Buffer Zone.

It was the grassroots efforts of Partnership for Rhino Conservation (PARC/Nepal) and the Chitwan National Park Buffer Zone Lothar User Committee that helped create Eco-Clubs at three different schools.

The goal of the Eco-Clubs is two-fold: 1) Creating conservation awareness at the local level, and 2) Taking a stand against illegal activities. …read more of Students in Nepal Take Rhino Conservation Awareness by the Horns! here

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Kids Connect! Adaptations

By Christine DePetrillo
August 10, 2011
File under: Animal Behavior, Education, Wildlife

When you want to dig a big hole, what do you do? You could get down on your hands and knees and dig with your fingers, right? That would probably take a while though and your hands would get tired. There’d be dirt stuck under your fingernails for a while too.

What can you do to make digging a big hole easier? …read more of Kids Connect! Adaptations here

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Kids Connect! You’re a scientist too!

By Christine DePetrillo
August 1, 2011
File under: Children, Education, Nature, Research


Scientists make new discoveries every day all over the world. Isn’t that amazing? Imagine, for example, being Galileo Galilei who first discovered some of Jupiter’s moons. Or think about being Benjamin Franklin who realized lightning was electricity. Or what about Albert Einstein who came up with the theory of relativity, E = mc2? Or Jane Goodall who was the first to observe that chimps used tools.

All of these people made discoveries that have changed our world.


That last box could be YOU! …read more of Kids Connect! You’re a scientist too! here

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Kids Connect! Light Show

By Christine DePetrillo
July 18, 2011
File under: Children, Education


Do you have any favorite words? Some of my favorite words are fun to say, like pandemonium or curmudgeon. Others are poetic, like serenity or eternally. Then there are the silly words, like zigzag and heliotrope.

My most favorite words, however, are science words, particularly bioluminescence. Not sure how to say this word? Get some help here. Now you try. Go ahead. Doesn’t it just make you feel smarter to say such a beautiful word?

The prefix “bio” refers to living organisms, and “luminescence” refers to light. So, bioluminescence is the emission of light by …read more of Kids Connect! Light Show here

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About this blog

Whether you’re a scientist working in the field or a young person in your backyard, this is where you get to share your stories through pictures, videos and articles with the rest of the world. Without your voice, these stories go unshared, and our planet’s ecology, wildlife and natural resources go unexplored. Connect with each other and us and let’s enjoy this process of learning from one another.

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