Ryan Tate, co-founder of VETPAW

Ryan Tate—co-founder and president of Veterans Empowered to Protect African Wildlife (VETPAW), which employs military veterans to combat poaching of elephants and rhinos in African nations—discusses growing up in Tampa in a family that prized animals, and later enlisting in the Marines as a teenager. vetpaw2He recalls that after completing his stint in the Marines—including a tour in Iraq—he was feeling uncertain about his next career move. The answer, Tate continues, came one day when Tate was profoundly affected by seeing a TV documentary about the ongoing slaughter of elephants and rhinos in Africa at the hands of poachers. A light bulb Our-Team.Ryan-Tate-231x300moment. Tate describes navigating the long and winding road of bureaucratic obstacles and diplomatic channels before getting permission to proceed in pursuing his vision for VETPAW. Acknowledging that the process necessarily moved slowly—and that a VETPAW objective is protecting the lives of the rangers who work in the parks against the threat of the poachers, as well as the animals who live there—Tate explains that they plan to place a VETPAW team on the ground within the next few months. He also outlines the traits or qualifications he’s looking for in VETPAW candidates, beyond, of course, being military veterans. (http://vetpaw.org)

ALSO: We had a brief conversation with Michelle La Fleur, co-founder of ThanksVegan, the vegan potluck extravaganza held each Thanksgiving Day at Unitarian Universalist Church of Tampa. On the eve of the ninth ThanksVegan, La Fleur recounts the history of the event, including the surprise she and her fellow co-founders felt at the first one drawing some 150 attendees. She notes that this year they expect upwards of 300 ThanksVegan celebrants. (http://tampavegthanksgiving.com)

COMEDY CORNER: Hannibal Buress’ “Pigeons Get Murked,” (http://hannibalburess.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” Adrian Belew’s acoustic version of “The Lone Rhinoceros,” instrumentals

NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: Henry Mancini’s “Baby Elephant Walk”


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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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