Founder of Kingdom Animalia Exotic Animal Rescue Jamie Kozloski shows off a few exotic animals to interested students (Photos Courtesy of the Kingdom Animalia Exotic Animal Rescue Facebook Page)
A valuable resource for exotic animal care is making its way to Oconto County.
Founded in 2006 by Jamie Kozloski, Kingdom Animalia Exotic Animal Rescue (KAEAR), which is moving from their building in De Pere, is in the process of making a new home in Suring.
The rescue serves the purpose of three goals: rehab, rescue and educating the public about exotic animals.
“Your rehab would be fixing up the broken,” said Kozloski of KAEAR’s mission. “We also do the rescue part of it, which is re-homing and getting surrenders, and then the third aspect is education because we wanted to minimize some of the suffering we’re seeing so much of, to start preventing some of these care issues that were avoidable.”
The nonprofit organization takes in exotic animals that are unwanted, abused, neglected, sick or injured. The animals they take in are typically non-native, which can be anything from reptiles, amphibians, birds, invertebrates and other small animals.
“A lot of the animals I was initially getting were animals that were from drug busts, surrenders and seizures,” Kozloski said. “I did animal control for the Green Bay Police Department for seven years when I was going to UW-[Green Bay] to get my biology degree, so a lot of them were coming from really yucky situations where people hadn’t done their research or weren’t taking care of them.”
Kozloski said she made educating the public about these animals a primary goal of hers in 2006. To do that, she gives presentations to assisted living and nursing homes, nature centers, birthday parties, scout and brownie groups and everything in between.
“We have some odds and ends animals that people had gotten and realized it was a really bad idea, things like foxes, a kinkajou, kudamundi and then we use those to educate about conservation, proper care and the sacrifices people need to think about or make to have these animals in their home.”
As for caring for injured animals, KAEAR has established a strong relationship with Dr. Sarah Wolfe of DVM at Animal Hospital of De Pere, who specializes in birds and exotics.
“Once the animals are certified healthy, if we’re not going to use them for programs, we then turn around and adopt those out to families or facilities that want to use them for education,” said Kozloski.
Those animals put up for adoption can be applied for on KAEAR’s website by filling out an application form. The applications are reviewed to ensure the home is a good fit, as well as providing the new owner with the necessary information needed to properly care for the animal.
Through presenting in front of different groups and organizations, the goal is to spread the word about their mission and become a resource for those who seek more information about these animals.
Kozloski says when people hear the term ‘exotic animal’ they tend to think of those they may find in a jungle, like lions, but she says that’s simply not the case with her organization.
“It’s not scary stuff,” she explained. “We take these animals that have these sad stories, that people had them and this is the condition that they came to us in, and we give them the ‘wow’ factor, while also using it as an opportunity to teach about it.”
As a nonprofit, KAEAR accepts tax-deductible donations to help with funding. They also receive additional aid from programs and adoptions, grant writing, selling t-shirts and other fundraisers Jamie hopes to hold throughout the year locally.
“I want to try and introduce myself to a lot of the local areas to see if they wanted to do cookouts, booyah sales, if they want to do a programming day where we have a picnic and just have animals out where they can interact with and socialize and get pictures with. I plan on having a gala fundraiser dinner where people dress up fancier and we can have guest speakers, live music, silent auctions and people can have meet and greets with the animals.”
After the move, she hopes they become established locally in the community. Her goal is to not only become a resource for northeast Wisconsin, but one that serves the entire state and beyond.
“So far, I’ve been resourced everywhere from Puerto Rico to New York,” she said. “We have lots and lots of people reaching out to us just because there’s not quite a lot of resources for exotics. A lot of the southern rescues for exotics are so full that they can’t possibly take in more, so we’ll take that opportunity to help out other rescues as well.”
“I’ve already had people calling me who know I’m going to be in the Suring area, saying, ‘hey I have this animal, I have that animal, what do I do with it, it fell out of the nest, we have the storm, what do I do with this baby raccoon?’ So I’ve already been a resource because people don’t know who else to call.”
Kozloski plans to also get her wildlife rehab license in the next year, which will allow her have the equipment needed to take care of animals that people may bring to her who are in need of medication attention. With sanctuaries becoming more crowded, there is a need for that animal care.
“I tried dropping off a baby raccoon [Wednesday] at the sanctuary in Green Bay and they were just too full and they turned me away,” Kozloski said. “Technically, I’m not supposed to keep it in my possession because I’m not licensed, so if the general community is trying to handle situations like that, they really have nowhere to turn.”
Jamie hopes to have the move to Suring completed by the end of the month and is looking forward to sharing their animals with their new community, which will prove to be a unique resource to the area.
“Once people understand something, they don’t fear it as much and that’s the whole thing, getting people to understand so that they care about it.”