PP STEVE SCHERER introduced a Special Guest, who is sponsored by ANN SAMSON. She is Daryn Allen-Attar, who is a broker at Morgan Stanley, and known to those of you who are on the YMCA Board. SUNNY was with LENNY and MARIE ROLF represented our Auxiliary. The Head Table included GORDON FELL, LEAH VRIESMAN, PEGGY BLOOMFIELD and JR DZUBAK except that JR wasn’t present, which will, apparently cost him at a later time. These introductions coincided with what I guess you could call a “Free Fine Zone”, meaning you could plug anything that comes to mind without having to worry about being fined. GORDON declined, LEAH started but was cut off with a “Later” by SEAN. But PEGGY announced that she would be attending the Republican National Convention and thus shouldn’t be fined. SEAN noted that would depend upon whom they nominated.
Sometime during the proceedings President SEAN reminded us of the absolute necessity of wearing your Rotary pin during the meeting. He then relented to the extent of allowing those who were “undressed” to buy one of our Golden Bear pins for five bucks.
I collected this from both NICK KAHRILLAS and DAVID FRIEDMAN. And this seems like a good time to remind everyone that HARLAN LEWIS is pretty well incapacitated by a nagging back problem. He just can’t get around, and I’m sure he would appreciate hearing from you all. His cell phone is (310) 804-0894, and he has that with him most of the time, since he is unable to get to his regular phone.
LEAH VRIESMAN was now allowed to speak by SEAN! She outlined her plans for Community Service, as follows: She spoke at length about Earth Angels, which is our part of the Angel Flight program. As you may know, patients at local hospitals usually UCLA are flown into Santa Monica Airport, and then driven to their medical appointments. Afterward, they have to get back to the airport, so they can fly back home. Thus the pilots donate their flight time, fuel, and expertise but without someone to take the patients back and forth from the hospital, the system is not complete. Those of us on the ground transportation portion are notified by email as to times that are needed. This is a real service which we can render - to be added to the list, please call LEAH. In addition, Community Service will continue to work with the Westwood Library, Meals on Wheels of WLA, and Police and Community Together (PACT).
CURT SMITH was up next, talking about his Vocational Service area. He plans to continue providing awards to those nominated by the Police and Fire Departments, and the three ROTC units at UCLA. CURT has added the following to the Vocational Service Mission Statement “Also to assist them in achieving these Awards.” which will increase their success. Our support of the troops in Afghanistan and Iraq will be continued. Since his brother, Doug Smith who has spoken to us before is back in Baghdad, he asked him what was needed, and Doug replied that they would like toys and clothes, which they can give to the children there. (And YOE cannot resist pointing out that these stated needs represent the very heart of we have come to expect from these brave troops). Our support of Nora Sterry Elementary School will continue, and we will award a plaque to the outstanding graduate of Emerson Middle School. He is asking each of us to bring our discarded cell phones in, so they can be recharged and used again. CURT’S last statement is that he and Doug would like to offer up to $5,000 from their Charity Fund to match whatever amount WVRC provides to a designated local Literacy Charity that’s something that should be announced at the coming Literacy Breakfast on August 15th. It’ s a Great Offer! Thank You, CURT.
ELLIOTT TURNER provided another Spiritual Message. Three older women were challenging an older man, telling him they could guess his exact age. “That’s ridiculous” he immediately replied. “Sure we can just drop your pants and underpants, and we can tell your exact age”. Embarrassed, but anxious to prove they couldn’t do it, he dropped his drawers. They asked him to turn around, and to jump up and down. Then, they altogether said, “You’re 87 years old”. With his pants still dropped, the man asked, “How in the world did you ever guess my exact age?”. The reply, “We were all at your birthday party yesterday”. There was also a rendition of a sign purported to be posted in a Bear Area, but you probably get the drift.
PEGGY BLOOMFIELD introduced our Speaker, Karen Suter. She is a Volunteer at the Wildlife Waystation, which is at 14831 Little Tujunga Canyon Road, Angeles National Forest, CA 91342, (818) 899-5201. They are a 501 c (3) non-profit, and they receive no government support, depending entirely on donations. She was accompanied by another Volunteer, Cathy, and Ray Paul, who is one of their professional animal handlers. They came along to help handle the animals that they brought.
Karen is a retired speech therapy teacher. She first presented a video, essentially of their founder, Martine Colette, who started the program in 1976. The many animals they showed, both large and small, wild and relatively tame, were beautiful to see. As Martine rescued her first animal, she soon found there were many animals in need of care and feeding. A number of them had been declawed, which makes them almost helpless, and with some, their teeth were capped again, rendering them unable ever to return to nature. These once-wild animals could be found in deplorable living conditions people started out thinking they could become pets, and having discovered otherwise, they were left to, in many case, almost wither away. Mariah, a young female chimpanzee, was featured early she was very appealing, and quite friendly. However, chimps can grow to 200 lbs and once grown, they can no longer be considered safe the males have the strength of 5 or 6 men!
Years ago, wild animals were sold to anyone who had the money to purchase them there were almost no laws regarding their treatment. Then, when the owner realized he couldn’t safely keep them, the problem was what to do you couldn’t just turn them loose. On a personal note, I happily recall a holding area that used to be kept for movie animals, in Thousand Oaks. I took my kids, and neighbor kids out there a number of times. My most touching memory was seeing three 8-week old tiger cubs, playing with the 10-year old son on one of the keepers, in a small cage. They had a great time, but we were reminded that this could not be repeated, ever, once the cubs were more than 15 to 20 weeks old.
The Wildlife Waystation was deliberately located in the Angeles National Forest, since it was found that neighbors in other communities soon tire of the noise, smells and general unpredictability of wild animals. They are staffed by a number or professionals, and many volunteers help in different ways. While it is not practical to visit the Waystation as a tourist, they certainly encourage inquiries as to how you might get involved. The number of helpful opportunities for volunteers is almost unlimited.
Sometimes they can receive large numbers of animals, almost without notice an example being a holding area that was shut down in Idaho from which they accepted 24 lions, all at one time! In this group were Tripoli and Algiers. Tripoli had only three little stumpy legs, and thus could not get up or down from any height. Algiers adopted him, and would provide a perch for Tripoli, helping him by holding his body against the platform Tripoli was going up to or getting down from. He thus allowed Tripoli to climb onto his back, and he would either raise him or lower him by moving his own body.
They brought along two of their residents. First was Bridget, a long, slender ferret, who was displayed by Cathy, taking her around the room for a closer view. Ferrets are not legal in California, because there is concern that they could escape and create a colony. They are carnivores, and live in the wilds in what we would call prairie dog tunnels. They are members of the weasel family.
Next, Ray Paul displayed a female alligator, about two feet long. Her name was Bonnie, and she can grow up to nine feet long and as Ray said, you really don’t want one at home. They grow about a foot a year. They are considered mature at age nine, and usually would be about six feet long by then. You may remember the alligator that was released in a local pond he is now at the L.A. Zoo. Alligators live from 50 to 80 years. The Wildlife Waystation does turn some of their animals over to Zoos, but they retain title.
I asked if it was true that you could hold their jaws shut with one hand. Yes probably but it isn’t a good idea, obviously. They have the strongest jaws in the animal kingdom - one was measured at 6,000 pounds per square inch. What is the difference between crocodiles and alligators? (which YOE has always wanted to know) They are both fresh water swimmers, but crocodiles have salt glands, and thus can subsist even where large rivers run into the sea. Their jaws are shaped differently, but again, YOE isn’t sure he wants to get close enough to observe the difference. Their habitat is the southeastern part of the U.S. from Texas to Florida, mainly.
How often are trainers attacked by the animals they work with? It depends on what their background is if they have grown up being trained, they are obviously more used to humans than those that come directly from the wild, or from long, difficult captivity.
Ray doesn’t recall any serious incidents at the Wildlife Waystation. However, one important caveat when they are being fed, keep away. They fully revert to their inborn wild instincts, and no rules apply. What happened at the San Francisco Zoo where the tiger killed a boy? He and his friends, who had been drinking, came to the Zoo with slingshots, and proceeded to zap the female tiger over a period of time. Since the tiger had no place to avoid the shots, she eventually just did the only thing she could. Ray asked, “What would YOU do under those conditions?” Ray likes the variety of his job he works with all the animals, and the birds, that come to the Waystation.
Briefly, back to fundraising. They have several levels of monetary support just ask. Also you can arrange a safari dining experience - $250 per person, 14 guest maximum, or a Garden Cocktail Party @$150 per person, with up to 20 guests. Both of these are hosted personally by Martine Colette and if I ever win the Lottery, I’d like to attend! Thanks to the Wildlife Waystation for an educational and interesting program.
The Last Word, per SEAN
You tell me what you need, and I’ll tell you how to do without it!