A virtual menagerie: How conservation and rescue efforts can connect us with wildlife around the world

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By Andrea Sachs,

Game Rangers International

Travelers missing wildlife more exotic than squirrels and pigeons can support animals through symbolic adoption programs run by rescue centers around the world. Game Rangers International in Zambia, for instance, is seeking sponsors for its orphaned elephants.

Happi is an orphaned orangutan in Borneo who loves papaya and building nests with sticks. Dimples is a koala in Australia who lost her mother at a young age but found comfort in the arms of Chris Hemsworth. Batmann is a blind African penguin with oil-slicked feathers who is now living happily ever after with his partner, Penelope, in a South African sanctuary. Though these animals have different backgrounds — and taxonomy — they share a common trait: They are all available for symbolic adoption.

Sheltering in place has significantly shrunk our wildlife-viewing opportunities. But you don’t need to travel to be part of the larger animal kingdom. Conservation and rescue groups around the world offer sponsorship programs for a variety of species that often serve as mascots of their home countries: lemurs in Madagascar, elephants in Zambia, coqui in Puerto Rico. Your donation will help the organizations with their rescue, rehabilitation and release operations as well as support the critters unable to survive in the wild. Bonus: Many sanctuaries were open to the public before the pandemic, and you can possibly meet your adoptee (or its relative) once travel resumes.

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