Sunday, February 8, 2015

Saving the Planet, one Volunteer at a Time

On January 24th, 2015 I launched This new website is my way of saving the planet, one volunteer at a time. Check it out...

I am excited to have the opportunity to do my part in conservation, and help you do yours too. Just an example of what kinds of projects I will be offering are:

-stay in a tribal elephant town in Thailand. This project involves staying with a tribe in a town where elephants roam freely. Volunteers will experience tribal ceremonies, interacting with elephants who roam freely through the town and have relationships with the tribe, and tribal outreach and education on the importance of elephant conservation in Thailand.

-work with rescued sloth bears in India. The advent of "dancing bears" has been nearly eliminated in India. Spend time at a sanctuary for these rescued sloth bears. Volunteers feed the bears, keep them happy with daily enrichment activities, and learn all about sloth bear habits by observing them on a daily basis. Rescued elephants also reside at the sanctuary.

-beachside sea turtle conservation. Walk with baby sea turtles as they hatch and make their way down to the water. Care for older turtles in a sanctuary, and hatch babies under an incubator. Work toward increasing the number of successful turtles on coastal shores.

-work with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in the tropics. I offer work with wildlife rescue centers around the globe. Be a part of wild animal rehabilitation and re-entry into the wild. Nothing feels better than to know you've helped to save an endangered species. Work with macaws, mountain lions, monkeys, and so much more! 

So I welcome you to come make a difference with me. Adventure awaits.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I Dream of a Rescued Bird Sanctuary

Photo courtesy of
I wanted to write out my most recent desire to open and run a rescued bird sanctuary somewhere in South America. That way maybe I can help manifest it.

I was once interested in buying land in South America and building a hostel on it, either on the beach or in the jungle, or both! Part of this would include building a rescued bird aviary on the hostel property, so hostel guests could come through and hold and learn about the birds as part of their stay. All around South America, people keep birds (exotic macaws, parrots, and other birds) as pets, much of the time in horrible conditions (in a tiny cage at a bar where they are fed beer and crackers, or left in the cold outside and neglected). These birds are often stolen from the wild, where they are taken as chicks and their parents killed. This illegal pet trade is unfortunately still a pretty big deal in these countries. Even if the birds are
treated kindly, they should not be taken from the wild or locked up as pets. Many of these birds have no place to go after being confiscated. There is an overabundance of birds and not enough sanctuaries to hold them. Many of the wildlife rescue centers are rehabilitation centers with the intention of rehabilitating the animal and putting it back in its natural habitat. However, most of these birds cannot be put back into the wild because they will never be truly wild. Pet birds cannot survive in the wild because they aren't able to find their own food sources, or are too tame and will come too close to people, putting themselves in danger. These rehabilitation centers end up taking some of the birds anyway, despite not having room for them.

I want an aviary to house these very birds. I want these birds to get the attention they need every day and to be able to interact with people (hostel guests) on a regular basis. Though they will never be wild birds, they are social animals that live in flocks and need a certain amount of attention in order to remain healthy and content (this is at least true for parrots and macaws). I would like to be the one who runs this facility and takes care of the birds, making sure guests and birds get healthy interaction and educating people on the plight of these birds. I want to foster a love for birds and other wild animals in as many people possible. That is my goal.

Since building my own hostel and buying land is expensive (though 1/3 the cost of doing it in the United States), I have come to the conclusion to write up a proposal that I will send around to hotels and hostels in South America. Maybe one of them will agree to let me build the project on their land. I would most likely need to find funding for this project, unless I find a wealthy hotel that will both pay for the project and pay me for the work I do.

I am dedicated to working with wildlife in some way, and most desire to be in the tropics. I will find a way to make my dream come true...

Watch for a kickstarter campaign coming soon? :)

All photos on this post copyright Jennie Burns unless designated otherwise

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Chasing Storms and Capturing Sunsets

"Life is a dance of nature." -Toba Beta

...and what a beautiful dance it is.

I recently experienced the greatest sunset ever, while on a camping trip with a friend. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I'll let the photos speak for themselves...

Walking into the dusk.

The sky turns pink as the sun lays its weary head.

The Earth waves goodnight with a colorful hand.
All photos above copyright Jennie Burns.

 And this is what happens when you chase a storm...

Photo copyright Kristian Christiansen
Model: Jennie Burns
  “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

...that time I held a rare creature hardly anyone has ever seen

It hasn't even been properly identified yet! Researchers believe it is Martiodrilus crassus, which is Latin for "worm which feeds on dogs and small children." It didn't seem like it wanted to eat me, though.

We found him under the mud in the tropics of Ecuador while I was on a volunteer project there. They rarely come to the surface and scientists don't know much about them yet. Pretty cool!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

The 5th Annual Wildlife Charity Party

And another year helping native wildlife in Utah! The 5th Annual Wildlife Charity Party went off with a bang, and I will be sending a large chunk of change to the Southwest Wildlife Foundation (SWF). Their goal is to build an official animal rescue, rehabilitation center and educational Nature Park in the hills of Cedar City - which will be the first of its kind in Utah.

property donated by Pacificorp
A few years ago, Pacificorp Power donated land for the Nature Park, after meeting Martin Tyner's giant Golden Eagle, Scout. Scout is an educational eagle and creates love and respect in the minds of many who meet him. Martin's heart, hard work and dedication moved Pacificorp, and the land was given over to wildlife.

Martin started gathering the troops to begin building on the property. Volunteers built a bridge connecting the Nature Park to the surrounding hills of Cedar City. Boy Scouts built a sign for the property.

Volunteers painting the pedestrian bridge

Boy Scout-made sign
A waterfall runs through the property. Temporary raptor rehab facilities now exist tucked in the back of the property. The idea is to eventually use this space as not only a rescue and rehab center, but as an educational center. Visitors will be able to walk through the property, looking at the animals and the rehabilitation process, learning a love for the animals of Utah and the people who work for their survival every day. A conservation education.

Temporary raptor rehab facilities just past the campsite and peeking out of the trees

Martin Tyner, the founder of SWF, is big on education. Not only does he spend every day helping care for sick, injured or orphaned utah native wildlife such as eagles, hawks, owls, rabbits, squirrels, and so much more - he also travels the country educating folks on the importance of his work and of conservation of both wildlife and its habitat.
Martin with hawk at an educational event
Martin has a great big heart, and a dedication that cannot be matched. He is one of my real-life heroes. And one day, when his Nature Center is built and up and running, I hope to be a part of it. I hope to dedicate my life to saving animals and their habitat, too.

Martin and Scout - a bond like no other
 More pictures of animal rescue...................................................................................................................
orphaned baby barn owls becoming ready for release

Martin feeding an injured barn owl
Release of a hawk that had been hit by a car a few weeks earlier

Martin with injured bald eagle

New Beginnings

The 5th Annual Wildlife Charity Party

Myself, the hostess, with a python
This year I branched out and chose my own venue (rather than having the party at an established club venue). This way I could bring in my own entertainment (snakedancers, live creatures, and a great big mobile DJ booth called the Jellyfish 12000). I chose the Utah Arts Alliance as a venue, as my friend Derek Dyer owns it, and it has an indoor and outdoor space. In the main room I set up 3 big DJs, a catering table for Cantu's Catering, a face-painting station, a giant interactive art project by Aspen Moon, and surrounded the room with wildlife art by local artists such as myself, Rob Daugherty, Alice Toler, and Spencer Barton. Creature Encounters brought in some of their pythons and boa constrictors, as well as some scorpions and tarantulas. This created the animalistic scene that I wanted. Guests came in animal attire and some of the costumes were tip-top.
Ladies enjoying Sutra
Outdoors I had the giant Jellyfish, (donated by Jared Gallardo and the Jelly crew) pushing beats out all night long with its 5 DJs, blinky lights, and general awesomeness. Sutra the giant polar bear (donated by Scott Keller) was also in attendance, head swaying to the music, falling in love with all the cute animal girls at the party.
Our snakedancer, Michelle
We had a photo booth, compliments of Brett Colvin, and two great photographers, Brett himself, and Rudy van Bree. As usual, I was also snapping shots of the show. At 10:30 Salt Lake City's BBoy Federation came and danced for us. At 11:00 the lovely Michelle Sorensen did a belly dance with a python on her hip. There were LED hoopers and go-go dancers for every DJ set. At the end of the party, Aspen's art project was burned in a burn barrel for symbolic reasons. It was a fun party and there was much to do. I will definitely keep up this tradition and hopefully get more and more people involved and interested in the cause. I want to make millions!!!! (and why not?) ;)

You can learn more about the Southwest Wildlife Foundation, or donate to the cause, by visiting their website at

MOAR Pics ..............................................................................................................................................

More photos can be found on Rudy van Bree's Flickr album at

Photos on this post compliments of Southwest Wildlife Foundation, Rudy van Bree, Randi Gurule, and Jenny Baird.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Animal rescue in the Ecuadorian Amazon at Merazonia Animal Rescue Center

I had the privilege of spending much of last year working with wildlife at Merazonia Animal Rescue Center in Mera, Ecuador. Here's what I did...

Held a baby spider monkey who got electrocuted and is now missing one arm and a tail. The vets at Merazonia treated him and saved his life and now he is recovering there. In the meantime he needs lots of exercise, attention, and love.

Baby spider monkey comes for a cuddle
Taking Spidee out for a jungle jaunt

The center was full of birds that had been confiscated as pets in bad conditions. Macaws, parrots and parakeets were a pleasure to work with and would allow me to chat with them all day long. Some even answered back!

Head master at the center

Barbosa, the pirate bird. He would spend the day nuzzled into your shirt while you cleaned his cage. I liked to think he was a sneaky old-man-bird who used his disability to get into girls' clothing. He he.

Another orange-cheeked parakeet

These parakeets were so cute, and flocked around you during feeding time

This one liked to ride on my head while I was cleaning

Playful blue-headed parrot

Feeding abandoned blue-headed parrot babies

Chestnut-fronted macaw

This bird talked A LOT, and said some amazing things. He would greet me with Buenos Dias and continue talking about housekeeping chores while chuckling to himself throughout the day.

One of my favorite parrots - very sweet and would make cute chirping sounds when you entered his cage

A cute but unwelcome visitor to the bird cages, this wild tamarin monkey is not much bigger than the size of your hand and likes to steal bananas out of the aviaries

One of my favorite residents of the center was Miss Grautin, a rainforest rodent who was tamed as a baby and ran up for pets n cuddles upon entering her cage. Her favorite food was large fruit seeds with some pulp left on.

Petting Miss Grautin while greeting the Blue and Gold Macaw

Beautiful Blue-Headed Parrot

Miss Grautin says HI!

It's a privilege to work with these endangered tropical wildlife species

A Red Howler Monkey that was being rehabilitated for reintroduction was a great animal to see up close and personally. A beautiful yet fickle animal, she has been known to bite and pull hair in the past. I was very careful while meandering her cage to place food in difficult-to-reach places. I suddenly felt something large land on my back and realized she had jumped there. I was acutely aware of my very-vulnerable jugular as I made slow movements toward her feeding area. I stayed quiet and didn't panic, therefore keeping her calm as I grabbed a piece of food and lured her off my back and onto a large tree limb in her cage. She fell for the bribe and jumped off my back to take the food. I quickly finished and got out of there, happy to be attack-free.

Little Red Howler Monkey just waiting to get back out into the wild

She could have killed me by tearing out my jugular, but she didn't. :) 

One night we reintroduced a new kinkajou in with the rest of the kinkajous, and I was put on watch duty to see how they would react to each other. I sat out with my candle and headlamp and watched the kinkajous' antics. They are very nocturnal and sleep all day but hop and climb around all night. I knew the kinkajous were very curious and, though they get a bad rep at the center because of how ferocious they are during the day (when woken up - who wouldn't be?!), they are really sweet after a full day's rest.

Making a connection with a curious kinkajou

I love my job

And then there are the capuchins. The center is home to many types. Some are docile, some are vicious, and they are all very smart. When fed onion pieces, they take the onion and rub it all over their bodies before consuming it. They do this to fend off pesky mosquitoes. In the wild they do this with anything that stinks, because apparently that keeps the bugs away. I heard about a time when a large blue morpho butterfly flew past the capuchin cage and was captured by one of the monkeys. He proceeded to tear the wings off and rub the blue glittery dust all over his body. In the words of my fellow volunteer, "he looked like he was going to the disco!"

Fights between capuchin groups can be deadly. Even certain volunteers aggravate the capuchins for no apparent reason, and those volunteers aren't allowed to work in the cages (we do not work with the monkeys - rather they are caged off in separate cages while other cages are being cleaned). The monkeys sometimes grab a wad of volunteers' hair and pull it out. One grabbed my t-shirt and tore a piece off of it. If you ignore the monkeys and don't do anything to aggravate them, they are fine to work around.

There was a baby capuchin in quarantine that was so cute. He would watch me and jump around the cage, playing with and taunting me - but when I approached the cage he would immediately run to his mother and hide under her.

Momma and baby brown capuchins

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Merazonia Animal Rescue Center, and will be back again. This was my second volunteer visit to the center, and I plan on spending a lot of time at my own eventual rescue center in the Ecuadorian Amazon some day.

"In all regards, you must love what you do."