The Rescue Ranch received its 501(c)3 non-profit status allowing us to approach foundations for start-up capitol and annual expense monies in June of 2004.
It will be a three-fold facility, preserving and restoring as much of the local ecosystem as possible, for-
1. The rescue, rehabilitation, and release of indigenous wildlife.
2. A last stop home for orphaned, abused, abandoned and inappropriately housed exotic and indigenous animals of all types.
3. All programs will have an emphasis on conservation, education and programs especially designed for handicapped persons and their various needs.
The Rescue Ranch, done properly, will be a one of a kind facility reaching a segment of the population that is often forgotten about.
The rescue, rehabilitation and release of indigenous wildlife:
1. If an animal or bird can be rehabilitated and released they will be. If not they will be humanely euthanized or used in hands-on education programs, if the animal’s personality allows for such interaction. Should our facility not meet their needs we will place the animal at an appropriate home.
2. Orphans will be released as soon as feasibly possible.
3. Any animal kept at the facility must have a good quality of life.
4. This area will need holding cages, flight cages and transition areas for release.
5. Education of the local eco-system is key. There will be several programs teaching ALL segments of the population respect, conservation and preservation.
The exotic and indigenous animals that can not be released:
1. Will not be breed. Any animal coming in must be spayed or neutered to prevent accidental breeding.
2. Our facility will not de-claw or cut the canines; obviously an animal arriving in this condition will not be turned away. All animals will be welcomed. Due to imprinting on humans and de-clawing most cannot be released. Therefore they will be provided a permanent, comfortable home, in a setting reflecting THEIR natural environment.
3. These animals will be used for exhibits and education programs allowing interaction with the disabled whenever possible. (A tiger cub can be held, fed and pet, while a grown one cannot).
4. People’s safety and the animal’s care and comfort are always the top priority.
PROGRAMS THAT CAN BE MADE AVAILABLE IN CONJUCTION WITH THE ABOVE:
1. Hearing impaired - signed tours/classes will be offered throughout the Rescue Ranch, from hands-on animal care and interaction, to training the scent dogs, facility maintenance, land conservation programs.
2. Visually impaired - hands on touch programs, animal responses to verbal commands and Braille information packets.
3. Down Syndrome and mentally challenged – all programs will be geared for their various levels.
4. For people in wheelchairs, families with strollers, those with injuries that restrict mobility (broken legs, stroke/heart attack patients, frail individuals from disease or age related) – the Rescue Ranch will feature 6-8ft. wide pathways, restrooms to accommodate not just the person in a wheelchair but a companion should they need help.
5. Available wheelchairs or motorized carts to help in getting around.
6. Outreach programs – where we take specific, gentle animals on site to nursing homes, rehab centers, children’s cancer wards and possibly an interactive program for the Autistic. If located close to an urban area there will be out reach and on-site programs to teach the importance of nature, the environment and conservation.
7. The Rescue Ranch intends to work closely with community and school systems for continued education on the environment and how to be as non-invasive and protective of it as possible.
8. Meditation groups – can have, for a nominal fee “Meditation Days” so they may have quite meditation with the animals. No hands on, as we will be closed to the public also giving the animals a day peace.
9. Scent dog training and handling will be offered. Demonstrations will be done to showcase the animal’s abilities and how they can help in a given situation.
10. I am currently featured on a Japanese educational web site, www.jproduction.tv, “Wild and wonderful with Barbie”. This web site features interactive programs trying to bring the world together through education, sharing and understanding. Whatever I do they will continue to feature; therefore The Rescue Ranch will be reaching other countries.
1. Restrooms with extra wide, automatic doors and ramps with drinking water stations nearby.
2. Office/Education center with a back porch amphitheatre set-up for larger groups and fair weather programs, ideally with sliding glass/Plexiglas partitions that could be moved in front of the audience allowing for maximum safety for programs involving large cats and other dangerous animals.
3. Animal hospital/rehab center allowing for quarantine, isolation, and proper medical care. This area will be open to the public ONLY for very specific programs. We’d also like a small living area here for 24/7 care of critical care or infant animals.
4. Animal commissary and food storage for dry, frozen and refrigerated items.
5. A director’s and caretaker’s home on-site. These do not have to be large, just functional and comfortable. These two homes are very important as they allow for 24/7, 365-day staffing to attend sick animals, do the 2-hour feedings for baby animals and any other situations that may arise such as bad weather, animal injuries, etc.
6. If the drinking water in the area is not good (most of Florida), then a water treatment area will be needed to service the entire facility.
7. A self-sustaining gift shop where a portion of the profits help daily expenses. Example: I can get post cards made for 19 cents each. If $1 is charged per card, there is enough money to purchase more and have the profits help with expenses.
8. Self-sustaining state of the art handicap facilities. We will approach various groups such as MS/MD, cancer care programs, Make-A-Wish foundation and etc. to see if they would have interest in having facilities on site where their special needs persons can get 100% care and comfort combined with education and conservation programs and healing with animals.
MAJOR STAFF POSITIONS NEEDED:
1. Executive Director (myself) who lives on site and oversees the entire project. All other departments will ultimately answer to me but the caliber of people, in key positions, should be that they are extremely responsible, talented, and efficient, able to take care of their own departments with minimal supervision.
2. Animal Care Director – vital, as this person will make all the decisions as to the final disposition of animals and their care. He/she must also have the ability to handle the 24-hour incoming animal emergencies. Each animal species specialist/department, (hoof stock, big cats, mammals, bird of prey and etc.) will answer to this person.
3. Facility Director – in charge of building and maintenance.
4. Education Director - to oversee all on-site, outreach and disabled programs. This may eventually require more than one person to cover the extensive programs we plan to offer.
5. Field Director – to oversee any and all programs done outdoors.
6. An assortment of volunteers with specialized areas.
7. A nurse on site or access to a hospital/clinic/doctor for human emergencies (slip and fall, heart attack, insulin shock, etc). Hopefully we will never need such services but it is better to be prepared. The hope is that each special needs facility will have a room or more set aside for very specific client needs.
Note: By housing the Executive Director and Animal Care Director on site, much lower salaries can be offered to them. The safety, security and welfare of the animals can be met at all times without burning one person out. All paid staff and senior volunteers must be CPR and 1st Responder trained. The directors already are.
Is that each enclosure is not less than ½ to ¾ acre for smaller animals (lynx, bobcat, foxes), 1 acre for solitary big cats (leopards, tigers, etc) and large mammals, and 5 acres for pride/pack animals (lions, wolves and apes). All exhibits will have running waterfalls, ponds or river sections and be beautifully landscaped to represent the animal’s natural habitat. The water will also be routed to provide in-ground heating of a den area for cold winters and misting systems for those hot summer days. I’d like to see a one way window set up at each den area. This will allow the animal to get away from people as needed; yet we are still able to watch them, without disturbing them. This will be a whisper only zone. Large flying enclosures for all birds again kept as natural as possible. By making the animal’s enclosures as natural as possible we will be able to provide education programs that do not give a misleading impression of their needs.
I’d like an African savanna area, (no aggressive/carnivorous animals); with a watering hole that has the handicap facilities and/or restaurant that over looks it - like Kenya’s Tree Top Hotel. Both facilities MUST BE very easy for all handicapped persons to enjoy/use. There would be a safari truck that would have a portion of it modified with seats removed, and wheelchair lock-downs provided. This will enable people in wheelchairs to have that “safari” experience. To do this properly will require a minimum of 100 acres of land. Note: if done on an international scale, such as a game preserves in South Africa, exhibit cages would proportionally take far less space, if any land at all. The emphasis would then shift to the natural plains experience of the area, and ALL animals would be included. If we take over a facility already dedicated to saving a species, all emphasis then shifts to that breed’s survival.
If there is a lake, in addition to conservation programs, we could provide a dock where wheelchairs can be locked down for safety. Fishing and fly-fishing could then be taught/done. Should someone wish to cook their catch, (like farm raised trout – no depletion of native species will be tolerated), an area could be provided to teach them how to clean, prepare and cook it. A hydraulic chair lift can raise and lower those who need assistance for supervised swimming or boating experiences.
Programs and classes could include compass work, fire prevention, natural healing/first aid, and, area permitting, education on the Native American traditions (sweat lodges, ancient legends told around the campsite, drum songs – just imagine the deaf learning the beats while the vibrations go through their hands or the blind taking in the amazing tones). We can all learn from Native Americans co-existing with nature.
There needs to be an animal enrichment program – we don’t want the animals to be bored and listless. (Not necessary for a game preserve, as the animals are in the wild.)
We will work along side local ranchers and farmers with “problem wildlife” to minimize the impact for both parties. (Wolves, panthers, bears)
We will also encourage the LEAST amount of development.