Have you ever arrived at work to find an alligator on the doorstep? Well, it happens!
On August 5, 2005, a 10-pound alligator was found in a wooden crate abandoned at the door of a local veterinary hospital. We can only speculate that, like many unwisely chosen pets, he was getting too large, too aggressive and/or too expensive to keep.
The question was what to do with our newfound friend. Zoological facilities weren't interested: they get offered these animals all the time and are usually at capacity. Few rescue organizations seemed adequately equipped to care for such a large predator. And because he had no fear of humans and associated them with food, releasing him into a southern swamp would have been a potentially dangerous mistake.
Ultimately, we decided to give the alligator a good home ourselves. Al, as he became known, was soon joined by a sloth rescued from a trailer park, a macaw left at a pet boarding facility, ball pythons found in a tank in a dumpster, and iguanas wandering loose on the U of M campus. In addition to giving these and many other animals homes, we gave them teaching jobs: as actual examples of poorly chosen pets, they very effectively bring this problem to life when presented to the public. Live animals in the classroom also really inspire learning. It's one thing to hear about an alligator's bony armor, but it's another entirely to see it and feel it in person.
Over time we formalized our educational and rescue efforts into The Creature Conservancy, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We expanded further by opening our doors to injured, non-releasable wildlife and occasionally acquiring individual animals to meet our teaching goals. With the help of our animal ambassadors, we present educational programs with live teaching "tools" to groups in the community. The presentations are designed to excite, inspire and promote learning about the earth's inhabitants.
Our hope is that by creating personal connections with animals, we can have a positive effect on how people view them in the natural world. More importantly, we hope that with a greater understanding of and empathy for wildlife, people will make more informed decisions on issues that impact the world in which we live.
To learn more about The Creature Conservancy, please explore our developing website, have us present a program for your group, celebrate a birthday at an animal presentation here on our campus, join us for one of our upcoming events, or visit some of our animals on display at our Wildlife Park. As a non-profit, we very much welcome your monetary and food donations.