“Beautiful Flowers”

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It’s amazing what a photo of a Texas Indian blanket flower and scripture can do.

One of the greatest honors in this ministry is getting to send our “Beautiful Flowers” teaching about inner beauty to the girls of Stella’s Voice in Moldova. These girls have been rescued from human trafficking.

Last some of the 5-8th grade kids in our ministry put together packages of this teaching based on the Creation and scripture along with a beautiful Indian blanket photo and some gifts they made and we shipped them across the Atlantic. This photo shows the girls with their gifts.

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It’s important that kids understand others are hurting in the world at an early age and we are excited to get to get our #kzkids involved with projects like this.

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Look for more from the #kzkids helping on the human trafficking and more coming soon…

Chester Moore, Jr.

There’s always a bigger fish! (video)

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There’s always a bigger fish.

Most of the videos we post on here are original but this one is something special. Watch it to the end. Makes me want to go fishing.

Chester Moore, Jr.

Strange, small backyard creatures

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Most of mammals we see where I live Southeast Texas would be considered of the common garden variety.

Whitetail deer, raccoons, opossums and squirrels are the most frequently seen creatures that thrive in our woodlands, prairies, marshes and urban areas.

In fact, these animals are common sightings throughout North America

There are however some really strange mammals in the region that are very rarely seen by human eyes and yet they can live in suburban backyards.

Take the eastern mole for example.

These burrowing mammals have tiny eyes but they cannot see and spend almost all of their time underground.

Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University
Kenneth Catania, Vanderbilt University

According to the Mammals of Texas, “…moles feed largely on earthworms and grubs, although beetles, spiders, centipedes, insect larvae and pupae, and vegetable matter may also be eaten. In captivity, they have consumed mice, small birds, and ground beef.

“The average daily food consumption is about 32 percent of the body weight of the animal, although a mole can consume more than 66 percent of its body weight in 18 hours. Active prey is killed by crushing it against the sides of the burrow with the front feet or by piling loose earth on the victim and biting it while thus held. Captive moles kill earthworms by biting them rapidly in several places, often nearly cutting the worm in two.”

The saliva of males contains a type of toxin that paralyzes worms and insects. And if that is not weird enough, they can move as quickly backwards as they can forwards.

If the mole isn’t odd enough for you than let me introduce you to the shrew.

These mouse-sized insectivores are arguably the most voracious predators on the planet and East Texas has two varieties: the southern short-tailed shrew and the least shrew.

According to the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, shrews have an extremely high metabolic rate. This rapid conversion of food to energy requires that these animals consume up to their own body weight in food every day.

“The highly social and gregarious least shrew often cooperates in building burrows or nests, which are sometimes shared with other least shrews during the nesting and wintering seasons. The species uses the runways and burrows of moles, voles and other small mammals but will make its own runways in soft, loose soil. Tunnels under the snow provide protection from wind and intense cold, allowing least shrews to remain active all winter.

Least shrews rely mainly on their senses of touch and smell. Sight and hearing are not well developed.

The least shrew only lives a short time, usually a little over a year.

God created many amazing creatures and although the big ones get most of the media attention, those on the small side are just as interesting.

#kingdomzoo

Chester Moore, Jr.

The Mysterious Jaguarundi

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The world knows about lions, tigers, jaguars and cheetahs.

And among wildlife enthusiasts, cougars, leopards, lynx bobcats, servals and a caracals are well known.

But have you heard of the jaguarundi?

Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Photo courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It is a small, unique-looking cat that lives in a wide range of areas from the Southern United States into the jungles of South America.

I was blessed with a jaguarundi sighting in 2002 which deeply sparked my interest in the species and that interest just went up to another level after a visit to the Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fla.

Operated by Jim Broaddus, it is the only facility I know of who have an active breeding program for the rare species in the United States with a number of specimens on the property. Broaddus and his crew have a real passion for jaguarundis and we will be partnering with them at an educational level for future projects.

Yoda Thief
“Yoda” one of the jaguarundis from the Bear Creek Feline Center. Courtesy Photo.

There will be more articles coming soon. Until then visit, Bear Creek Feline Center’s jaguarundi page.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

Outdoor Kids and Social Media Pt. 2

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A crucial element of keeping kids involved in the outdoors is mentorship.

Take a kid fishing days, field trips and other events are wonderful but the fact is unless family is involved or there is a mentoring type relationship involved most kids will never take up an outdoors lifestyle.

This is where social media comes into play.

If you are involved with children or youth in say a church, scouting or other group and are connected via social media, use it (with parental consent) to “mentor” them.

It’s not as difficult as you think.

Send them messages periodically about your trips in the great outdoors. Share cool videos and photos about their favorite animals and use your social media to salute them when they do participate in an outdoors event. A prime example are the four girls you see in the photo below. My wife Lisa and I have been working with them for several years in a mentoring/ministry level and while in sixth grade, they are just now getting onto social media, we share our photos with their parents who share with them. There may be a long time between field trips but by sharing the photos and videos, the interest stays alive.

Me showing these four precious girls a baby duck on a field trip to the Swenson Whitetail Ranch.
Me showing these four precious girls a baby duck on a field trip to the Swenson Whitetail Ranch.

At the end of the day mentorship involves time investment and by simply sharing your social media time, you can keep kids inspired between field trips and outreach events.

For those kids you are able to build lasting mentoring relationships, it is key to make them part of the ministry or outreach. Kids love to feel as if they are a part of something and truthfully they have much to offer. Kids hearts are much purer than ours so when you get them involved you get all of them involved and with no hidden agendas.

We have just begun a new conservation awareness and #hashtag campaign via Instagram and Facebook. It started with a trip to Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge in Tyler and we are expanding it in a major way.

It simply involves getting kids to take a pen and paper, stand in front of animal at a zoo or wildlife park or even in a piece of habitat and make a simple statement about a conservation problem. Lauren, pictured here, is going into fifth grade and she wrote “Only 500 Left” to stand in front of the Siberian tiger enclosure.

What a powerful visual, eh?

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This is simple to do and we are going to inspire kids around the world to do this via social media. Beginning Aug. 16, we will start a program where we get kids to do this and #hashtag it #kingdomzoo. The first 5 kids to participate get a special prize and then weekly we will pick from the photos and let our social media viewers vote on the most creative. Whichever photo gets the most “likes” wins.

Other examples would be a kids standing in front of the ocean with a piece of paper saying, “Keep it Clean” or a wetlands saying “Hurricane Barrier”. The possibilities are endless.

Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result is insanity and if we are going to keep kids inspired about wildlife and in our ministry about the Creator, it’s going to take different ideas.

We hope you enjoy these. Feel free to share and spread around. We’re excited to begin our project and enter the next phase of getting kids outdoors through social media.

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

 

Outdoor Kids and Social Media Pt. 1

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Many involved with children and youth outreach slam social media as a negative force.

The fact is, social media is here to stay and we at the Kingdom Zoo: Education Center have found some very positive ways to use it to connect kids with wildlife and its Creator.

Instagram, Facebook and other mediums have become the primary way many youngsters socialize and by directly engaging them, we can help inspire and also continually fan the flames of interest in all things wild.

Photos and concise video segments are at the heart of social media communication and NOTHING translates better to these mediums than wildlife and the great outdoors.

One of the tactics we employ is “bait and switch”.

For example on Instagram, we will post a photo of something exotic like a cobra and typically get many kids “liking” and commenting on it. I mean who doesn’t think cobras are interesting?

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Then we will post a similar species from their backyard, like this eastern hognose and tag the kids who responded to the cobra pic.

We titled this “East Texas Cobra” and put information on how it flattens its head like a cobra and has all kinds of strange behaviors. Kids love things that they can actually go see in the wild and all of a sudden they start to consider the area they live in as a wild and wonderful place to perhaps explore.

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Another example would be posting a photo of a leopard followed by a bobcat tagged with info on how they can live in the most densely populated cities. A way for kids to connect with their home environment is key.

The next step is a call to action to actually go outdoors.

Some options include a photo contest (Instagram is perfect for this) where they can post photos of the animals they find in their city or even the bugs in their backyard. You can also promote outreach events such as animal demonstrations or field expeditions.

We have to take the message directly to the kids and their families and social media is an important way to connect.

Pop stars, sports celebrities and everyone with influence on the planet is using this fairly new format of communication to reach the kids of the world, so why shouldn’t we? After all, we are wanting to ensure the next generation is full of good stewards of our amazing natural resources and social media will be vital. No question about that.

More ideas on how to connect with and inspire kids to go outdoors and hopefully see the majesty of God in the process in the next installment..

Chester Moore, Jr.

 

 

 

The Incredible Siberian Lynx

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Last week my family and I met our friends Terri Werner (Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge) and Mike Gilley at Jim Broaddus’ Bear Creek Feline Center in Panama City, Fla.

It was a wonderful trip as we learned much about several unique species of cats and it inspired me to do a three-part blog this week beginning with this one on the Siberian lynx, of which several reside at the center.

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I had only seen juveniles of this species in person and was impressed with the size. They were much taller than the largest bobcats I have seen and were beautifully marked with a regal, powerful look.

Here are some facts about this incredible species:

#Siberian lynx regularly kill prey 3-4 times their size.

#They can jump as high as 10 feet in the air and have been documented catching birds in flight.

#The species is an excellent swimmer.

#The Lord built them with wide-webbed paws that keep them from sinking in deep snow and hair on the bottom of those paws for traction and warmth.

#They engage in numerous vocalizations ranging from growls to “spits” but they are not a BIG cat. Science only considers those that can roar (lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards) as big cats.

If you would like to see the Siberian lynx and other beautiful cat at Bear Creek Feline Center click here for more information or call 850-722-9927.

Check back in Wednesday for an article on the mysterious jaguarundi.

Chester Moore, Jr.