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The Whole Story:  A Voice for the Voiceless


More damage has been done to the planet, and all of its inhabitants, in the past 50 years than in the previous thousands of years man has shared the earth with animals.  The WOW! Club’s founders, Christian, Derek, and Landon Petrisko's goals are to protect all endangered, domestic, and exotic animals as well as their habitats.  As the great Jacques Cousteau once said, "People will protect what they love, love what they understand, and understand what they have been taught."


The club has been making short documentaries to promote its conservation message using only a Go Pro and a Canon EOS.  We are grateful for the fine products these companies put out that, along with the simplicity of iMovie, allow children to create wonderful productions.  The Canon and Go Pro are also being used for the upcoming Wild Over Wildlife and Shark Whisperer Organization 2016 calendar showcasing native Florida coastal species.


Situated by Ft. Lauderdale beach, our club is well-aware of the lifeline the ocean and its coastline provide to so many aquatic and terrestrial species.  A tremendous amount of time, energy, and a huge portion of the club's donations, go towards marine conservation.  We volunteer with Save-The-Manatee's conservation efforts by reporting all sightings to them.  We participate in shark and fish counts.  In February, after surveying several miles along Fort Lauderdale Beach, surveys of shore birds were conducted and reported to the Shore Bird Alliance.   


The club is currently supporting a number of mangrove and reef restoration projects.  Several members have completed their Jr. SCUBA Certification and have already participated in coral restoration dives, as well as fish and shark counts.  They are in contact with Nova Southeastern University’s Oceanic Assistant Director of Development, hoping to partner with them on local reef restorations and their upcoming shark tagging trips.  The Shark Whisperer Organization is another charity that has been instrumental in guiding the WOW! Club towards areas needing our attention.   Conservationist Jim Abernethy has a mentor to the club members.  We look forward to assisting him with his newest operations Wildlife Voice and Project Seahorse, as well as his organization for veterans, Operation Blue Pride.   These are aimed at helping people of all ages from all walks of life who, in return, become passionate about ocean conservation.


Landon is primarily focused on sea turtles, whales, dolphins, and manatees.  Derek is an advocate for sharks, rays, and the smalltooth sawfish.  Christian is interested in reef restoration and preservation, as well as creating a healthier environment for shore birds.  An avid aquarist, he researches and grows coral frags and has a captive breeding program for dwarf seahorses, hoping to prevent their removal from local habitats by hobbyists.  


Each year, the WOW! Club takes approximately 50 members to witness the release of sea turtle hatchlings.  Watching Loggerheads, Green Sea Turtles, and even Leatherbacks journey into the sea has been an educational and awe-inspiring event for the WOW! members and their families.  Service projects are done throughout the year, including weekly beach clean-ups during turtle nesting and hatchling season.  Trash is placed in the appropriate receptacles and the sand is evened out so that the turtles do not encounter any additional obstacles on their way to and from the ocean.  The WOW! Club was able to obtain recycling bins at Vista Park Beach in Ft. Lauderdale and in several local baseball fields and parks which will reduce waste in landfills and keep plastic out of the ocean. 


Symbolic adoptions are another way in which support is given to protect our marine life.  The club has adopted a coral reef, a satellite tracked turtle named Fee Bee, a shark,  and N. Atlantic Right Whales, Baldy and Bugs.  Petitions were signed to stop longline fishing, which leads to entanglement and unwanted bycatch.  Another was created to lower the speed limit of ships in order to reduce the number of fatal strikes suffered by so many of our majestic whales each year.  After learning that several local restaurants were serving Shark Fin Soup, a meeting was held and portions of Sharkwater and Shark Mountain were viewed.  Three petitions were started that succeeded in removing Shark Fin Soup from two of the restaurants’ menus.  Another peaceful protest was just conducted at the third along with fellow shark conservationists, and letters to the manager have followed.  The WOW! Club is proud to raise awareness about issues that most children have never heard of.  It also offers solutions that hope to reverse the negative impact humans have had on the environment.


The WOW! Club initially set out to save local endangered animals but has grown to raise awareness about animals all over the world.  They hold an annual costume party each October called the “Howl-O-Ween Ball” in which optional donations are collected in order to support a particular animal or area.  The 2009 event allowed the club to symbolically adopt a Florida Panther.  In 2010, they adopted a wolf.  The 2011 party allowed them to donate to the International Primate Protection League (IPPL) and adopt a gibbon (lesser ape) named Courtney.   The IPPL did a feature article on the children and their fundraising event which can be seen on page 4 here:  In 2012, The club was able to make a donation through the World Land Trust, now known as the Rainforest Trust, to purchase 15 acres in a South American rainforest in 2013 and 50 acres in Madagascar in 2014, also supporting The Nature Conservancy's Everglades Project with proceeds from that year's Howl-O-Ween Ball.  In Colombia, they helped to create the first sanctuary for two endangered primates:  The Colombian Spider Monkey and the Cotton-Top Tamarin.  In Madagascar, the Indri Lemurs were protected.  Pictures of the children and an article on the club were on the World Land Trust’s website and can be viewed here: and see us featured at  Click where it tells you to for more information and see some of our members on the cover of the pamphlet and a small story about us on the last page.


Additionally, the WOW! Club provides a forever home for many surrendered, abused, and abandoned animals.   We have taken in a kinkajou (honey bear) named Yogi, 2 prairie dogs, a chinchilla, a sugar glider, rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles, tortoises, and dozens of unwanted birds in addition to the more common pets such as cats and dogs.  A variety of reptiles round out the bunch, some of whom were found abandoned in the Everglades, likely released after being kept as exotic pets.  The club stresses the importance of not releasing exotic animals, or any pets for that matter, into the wild due to the impact exotic animals can have on the native species as well as the cruelty factor involved when a former pet is suddenly expected to fend for itself.   The club members enjoy interacting with the various animals, learning about their care, and being taught about the countries where the animals were originally found.  South and Central America, Indonesia, Madagascar, Africa, Papua New Guinea and Australia are some of these areas.


We also educate the club on the dangers associated with obtaining “wild caught” animals.  After learning about the deplorable conditions many salamanders are shipped and kept in after being captured by the masses, Wild Over Wildlife started a captive breeding program for Chinese Fire Belly Newts.  Newts had become very popular in pet stores, but there was a lack of education about their needs by pet shop employees.  Sadly, we also learned that virtually all specimens were wild caught.  Their amphibious life cycle is fascinating for the students and provides a wonderful opportunity for them to witness the physical and dietary changes associated with amphibians as they mature.  The WOW! club raises the newts and ships them during the egg stage to other hobbyists and pet owners throughout the country, making it unnecessary to ever support purchasing wild caught newts again.  WOW! Newts are found across the United States from Colorado to Boston.  


Wild Over Wildlife has been active in TNR programs (trap, neuter, re-release) involving feral cat colonies.  By sterilizing and vaccinating the cats, they keep them healthy while preventing further overpopulation.  While sedated, the left ears are notched in order to indicate them as already being treated.  Meetings are held which educate the club members about the importance of having their dogs, cats, and rabbits spayed and neutered.  The club also supports a number of shelters who take in unwanted dogs and cats.   We encourage our members to “adopt, not shop” when considering a new pet.


Our hope is that this wildlife club will inspire members to be responsible pet owners, informed about issues involving the environment, and aware of all of the animals who depend on us to keep them safe. 


                                                                                         The WOW! Prayer:    

 Help us to be a voice for the voiceless

and undo the damage that's been done.

Help us to save every species,

never losing a single one.


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