Bon voyage, Charlie!

Clearwater, Florida (August 25, 2004) . . . . Charlie, the North American River Otter, rescued by Clearwater Marine Aquarium (CMA) last March will have a new home next week. "Charlie is moving to Brookfield Zoo in the Chicago area," Glenn Harman, Director of Animal Programs, announced today. "Before he goes we want people to have a chance to bid him farewell."

Charlie, who has not been on public display, will be in the Otter Nursery on Friday, August 27, from 11 a.m. to 12 Noon. The public is invited to say goodbye as Charlie is off to Brookfield Zoo where he will participate in the river otter Species Survival Plan.

Developed through the American Zoo and Aquarium Association, the Species Survival Plan (SSP) is a cooperative effort to manage populations and establish conservation programs for selected species. The SSPs provide for the careful breeding management of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining captive population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. Since Charlie is unable to be released, his participation in the SSP will help sustain the species without necessitating the capture of wild river otters.

Most SSP species are endangered or threatened in the wild. Currently there are 116 species covered by SSPs. Additionally, SSPs include research, public education and reintroduction of populations to natural environments, all activities aligned with the CMA mission of animal care, conservation and public education.

When rescued by CMA from a busy Palm Harbor, Florida street, Charlie was a three-pound orphan, severely dehydrated and thin, when found. Today he is a robust, young adult otter anxious to live with fellow otters. "He passed his physical examination with flying colors," said Dr. Janine Cianciolo, staff veterinarian for CMA. "Charlie is a great otter for the Species Survival Plan, he's very healthy and he has loads of charisma."

Charlie will be missed at Clearwater Marine Aquarium. However, his successful rescue and rehabilitation is rewarding for the staff and volunteers who have cared for him. CMA has provided rehabilitative care for river otters since 1995. In that time, three otters were rehabilitated and successfully released to the wild.
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Snowy Egret

photo: Glenn Baker

From the balcony of our office in Ozona we occasionally have the favor of a visit by a Snowy Egret, Egretta thula. A small, white heron, the Snowy Egret is the American counterpart to the very similar Old World Little Egret, which has established a foothold in the Bahamas.

Adults have a slim black bill and long black legs with yellow feet. Their eyes also yellow turn ruby red in breeding season. Adults have shaggy plumes much prized by the fashion industry. Once hunted nearly to extinction for their plumes the Snowy Egret has rebounded since being placed on the endangered species list in 1997.

Their breeding habitat is large inland wetlands and coastal wetlands from the lower Great Lakes and southwestern United States to South America. They nest in colonies, often with other waders, usually on platforms of sticks in trees or shrubs.

Snowy Egrets stalk their prey in shallow water, often running or shuffling their feet; they will also stand still and wait to ambush prey. They tend not to recognize their mates outside the nest and will challenge any visitor in the immediate area. For more information about attracting local animals to your backyard read "Wildlife."

Glenn Baker, a photographer and naturalist from Florida Joins our staff today. Glenn's photo 'Days of Thunder' was featured in our series on the endangered American Crocodile. He lives in Jacksonville and only recently began photographing animals while pursuing his interests in nature and particularly the fauna of his native Florida.

Glenn belongs to the Jacksonville Herpetology Society and spends as much time as he can camping and hiking local forests, tracking his subjects and perfecting the art of wildlife photography. Glenn says part of his success is anticipating animal behavior by observation, "trying to capture a moment few of us ever see, something out of the ordinary. Action is generally explosive... that catches you off guard." Alligators are his favorite subjects since, as a child he very nearly became a meal for one while on a trip with his family to Ocala National Forest.

Glenn's beautiful pictures tell volumes about his subjects and his respect for the animals. It's because of his determination and skill as a wildlife photographer that we are pleased to welcome him to the Animal Broadcast Network. We look foreword to future animal stories as seen through the lens of Glenn's camera.

You may see more of Glenn's Photos at ABN's Photo Archive
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