15 years in a closet - Help give them a better life!

For: Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue
San Francisco, CA
Organizer: Lila Talcott Travis
15 years in a closet - Help give them a better life! (Yggdrasil Urban Wildlife Rescue)
of $3,500 goal
67% Complete
Raised by 37 donors

The Story

Imagine being a creature that derives your energy and health from the Sun. You roam across vast Desert expanses, soaking up the sun's warmth and grazing on wildflowers and grasses. Now image being that creature and being kept in a tiny wooden box in a dark closet for over 15 years. You either never saw the sun except in the fleeting days of your youth, or you have forgotten the joy of the sun's warmth because it had been so long.

This was the life for 1 California Desert Tortoise, 2 box turtles and 3 Russian tortoises kept at a Nature Center here in the SF Bay Area and for several other animals as well, including a leopard gecko and 2 bobwhite quail. For the past 15+ years they had been kept in a closet in tiny, soiled, wooden boxes. They did not receive proper beak or nail maintenance - their beaks were so overgrown that it impeded their ability to eat and their fingernails were so long that they had curled over each other and twisted their fingers into painful clumps. They had very inadequate diets and little to no heat. Most of their lives they spent in the dark and it shows in their current medical condition. One of these tortoises suffers from shell rot because she was unable to get out of her own feces for years.

This all changed on March 24th 2017, when we were asked to come forward to rescue these animals. Since then, they have been living in warmth, basking in real sunlight and foraging dandelion greens and strawberries straight from the soil they have been digging in. They have been taking long warm soaks to clean their soiled skin. They have even begun to feel curiosity again about the world around them.

After a long veterinary exam that included time-intensive shell repair to remove old feces that was causing rot, as well as beak and nail trims, they were declared free of immediate disease or parasites. However, their overall health, muscle-tone, and their strength has been severely compromised by long-term malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and lack of sunlight. It took years of this neglect to get them to this state and it will take years for them to recover from it. Some of them can be adopted out to the right people who are willing to take on this level of care. But others need to stay at our rescue center to continue to receive proper medical help for years.

We are reaching out to you because we badly need to upgrade our intensive care habitats and get some supplies to properly care for these guys for years to come and as an all-volunteer grassroots 501c3 nonprofit, we just don't have the money to do this. If you tell your friends, and they tell their friends, and everyone donates $5 we could make this a truly happy beginning for these deserving souls who have been through so much.

In the coming days I will be posting introductions about each of the Tortoises and Box Turtles who would benefit from your kindnesses. Please watch for these updates and thank you for your help.

Fundraiser Updates

Posted on June 14, 2017


Posted on June 14, 2017

This photo has been up in the gallery since I started this fund-raiser. Unfortunately there was no caption explaining what it is so I thought I would post an explanation.

This is a photo of the 2ft wooden box built into the animal closet at the Rotary Nature Center. The closet was approx. 4ft deep and was lined with a row of these 2ft deep wooden boxes. There were 1 or 2 animals in each box. Notice the dirt and feces and chipping paint covering the box. Notice the grime on the metal screen that prevented light from penetrating. Notice the lack of enrichment or anything to inspire engagement in life. What you cannot see from this photo is that even when the light was turned on, the closet was dim to dark at all times. The smell in the closet was inescapable. The lack of fresh air yet cold and drafty enough to cause upper respiratory infections in all the tortoises. These boxes housed animals for Decades in this closet. This is why I feel obligated to give these animals the best I possibly can, to make up for the life they had before. Thank you for your support.

Posted on June 12, 2017


Posted on June 12, 2017

We have received many questions about what happened to the other animals rescued from the Nature Center.
On March 24th, we removed:

1 California desert tortoise
2 three toed eastern box turtles
3 Russian tortoises
1 leopard gecko
2 bobwhite quail
1 parakeet
2 guinea pigs
1 mouse

The Turtles, Tortoises, and Gecko we have already posted about. But what about the 2 Bobwhite Quail, the Guinea pigs, mouse, and budgie?

We reached out to the specialized rescuers we sent these animals to for an update. 

We sent the 2 bobwhite quail and the budgie to Lisa from http://www.raptorsarethesolution.org/
She reported that due to the lack of sunlight, all 3 birds were in very bad shape, with exo-parasites (mites) and poor feather condition due to lack of UV light, either from the sun or from artificial UV bulbs. By using her expertise and working closely with a vet over the past 2 months, Lisa was able to return the budgie and one of the bobwhite quails to good health. One of the quail, however, was in terrible shape and was unable to recover and died soon after rescue.

The 2 Guinea pigs and the mouse we sent to Judy Hardin from RabbitEars Rescue ( http://rabbitears.org/index.php/about-us/ ). One of the guinea pigs was severely ill and they were all covered with mites. Thanks to Judy's experience and good care, they all recovered and are living the easy life. In fact, the two guinea pig boys are doing so well, they are now up for adoption! If you are interested, please contact RabbitEars Rescue at (510) 356-4233 or by emailing [email protected]

Between this update and the previous ones, you now know the latest on all 13 animals removed from Oakland's Rotary Nature Center.
If you are able, please consider donating towards this fund. We still need vital supplies for the remaining turtles and tortoises who will NOT be adopted out because their health is too fragile. The cost of the Reptile Intensive Care Habitats alone came to $1800, and that does not include costs of heating and UV supplies, medical care, or food. Thank you for your time and interest.

(please note: the above photo of a bobwhite quail taken from the internet - in memory of the Bobwhite who died because of this prolonged neglect of the animals entrusted to this now shut down Nature Center. The Bobwhite Quail was recently named the No.1 bird in decline in North America by the Audubon Society. )

Posted on June 12, 2017


Posted on June 12, 2017

Please meet Sheldon and Milton.

They are 2 of the Russian Tortoises that were kept in a tiny, feces covered, painted wooden box in the animal closet at the Rotary Nature Center in Oakland. They lived there for years, each separately having been surrendered by people who couldn't take care of them and assumed the Nature Center would do a much better job. Both Sheldon and Milton, being there for a shorter amount of time than the other animals we removed, suffered the least amount of health damage despite their years without UV light, proper heat, sunlight, veterinary support, or proper diets. As a result, following their in-depth health checks by veterinary staff at the Peninsula Humane Society, we determined that they would be adoptable by the right experienced family willing to give them the proper care, taking into account the extensive neglect involved in their previous life at the Nature Center.

Leslie and her daughter Evelyn are that experienced family. They opened their home to Sheldon and Milton knowing their history and health issues, and promised to provide them a tortoise paradise for the rest of their long lives.

Now, Sheldon and Milton spend their days digging in the sun, eating good food, taking hot soaks, and exploring their indoor and outdoor enclosures, as well as roaming the house where they now live.

Thank you to Leslie and Evelyn for giving them this wonderful forever home!

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15 years in a closet - Help give them a better life!

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