Saving Thailand's Elephants - Thailand and Myanmar with Jennie of the Jungle Part 1

I just got back from an amazing volunteer trip to Thailand to work with rescued elephants in Chiang Mai. Myself, my co-leader Aron, and our four JOJ volunteers spent a week in the hills of Northern Chiang Mai with the Karen tribe, who have owned elephants for centuries. These elephants were once used for subsistence by putting them to work in the logging industry. They were captured, brutally tamed, and put to work hauling large felled trees from the forest. After the advent of tourism, they were put to work in the trekking and entertainment industry, forced to learn tricks, perform, and carry tourists on their backs all day in the hot sun. Suffice it to say these animals are not treated well. Abuse and cruelty were the only ways the owners knew to keep their elephants in check.

Many organizations are now trying to help Thailand's captive elephants have a better life. On the forefront, Save Elephant Foundation, run by Lek Chailert, is running a number of different projects that b…

Whales and Condors on the California Coast

Last spring I took a trip to California to see whales and condors. I hadn't seen either in the wild before, and was excited to add these animals to my sightings list!

Monterey Bay is teeming with gray and humpback whales during the spring and summer months, as they hang out to feed on the abundant krill creating huge oil-spill-like patches in the water. Humpback whales are almost a guaranteed sighting, as the whale-watchers know where the local pods are and can lead you to them with minimal disturbance to the pod. I went out on one of the smaller boats and wasn't disappointed!

A pod of Orcas frolicked playfully around the boat and in the water. Very dolphin-like, these whales are social and playful, and it was pretty amazing seeing them being their natural selves, slicing through the waves on this perfect day. There was a family of five who came quite close to the boat to check us out.

Next were the humpbacks! Peeking in and out of the water and riding the waves, they swam in …

Wildlife Rehabilitation in Guatemala with Jennie of the Jungle

Last August I took a group of dedicated wildlife lovers to work with ARCAS Rescue Center in Flores, Guatemala, and what an adventure it was!

ARCAS is a sanctuary and rehabilitation center where orphaned and injured wildlife is taken in and nursed back to health or cared for until it is suitable for release back into the wild.
Three of our JOJ members were new to traveling abroad, and new to working with animals, and so I had the immense pleasure of watching their eyes light up as they had the chance to connect with the rescue animals at the sanctuary.

Macaws, parrots, toucans, peccaries, monkeys, and deer were just a few of the animals we had the opportunity to work with. We spent our days making diets for the animals, feeding them a mixture of fruits, veggies, and forest berries and leaves. We got to hang out with them as we cleaned their enclosures, and there is nothing that brings a smile to your face quite like being in the presence of adorable jungle animals.

Some of the animals…