Lokai Rose Foundation
Passion for Reptiles and Exotics Leads to Founding of Lokai Rose
Zen Habitats spoke with Zen Reptile Relief partner Lokai Rose about its beginnings and mission to help reptiles in need.
Zen Habitats: Why was Lokai Rose created?
Lokai Rose: The Lokai Rose Foundation, Inc. was created by the bond between the five Lokai sisters in 2015. We all share a strong passion for the planet and a drive to inspire the public to respect their world. After seven years of successful educational programming, we decided to incorporate under nonprofit status to expand our offerings while simultaneously rescuing animals in need.
Zen Habitats: Do you focus on reptiles?
Lokai Rose: We focus our efforts on the rescue, rehabilitation, and rehome of exotic pets, including lizards, geckos, frogs, toads, snakes, invertebrates, and pocket pets. Since starting our rescue at the end of 2020, Lokai Rose has rescued 36 animals (and counting). We are in the process of looking for a larger building so we can open our doors to even more exotic pets in need.
Lokai Rose provides educational programming on exotics of all kinds, reinforcing their slogan "everything has a purpose."
Zen Habitats: Why did you begin educational programming?
Lokai Rose: We quickly realized the community lacked any environmental and wildlife education programming. We quickly realized that exotic animals like snakes, lizards, and tarantulas are some of the most misunderstood creatures in our world, and someone needed to stand up for them. We began our journey as The Wilderness Club in 2015 and offered summer camps at our local state park. We also took to social media to address this vital need and shared information with friends and family. Once our camp ran successfully for two years, we expanded our summer camps due to increasing interest and demand. By 2021, Lokai Rose Foundation was incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit, and we were running seven year-round camps, private experiences, Girl Scout programs, school enrichment programs, and festival events.
Zen Habitats: Do staff members have educational backgrounds, wildlife backgrounds, or both?
Lokai Rose: Christina Lokai has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Conservation and Wildlife Management with career experience in an Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited zoo. Amanda has an education degree specializing in Earth Science. Samantha Barrere has a double major in Marketing and Communications with several years of experience working at zoological facilities. Anna Lokai has a degree in sociology with close to 20 years of experience in sales. Victoria Lokai has five years of experience as a small business owner specializing in budgeting for programs and events. We believe our diverse talents and backgrounds help us be so successful.
Zen Habitats: What was your goal when you established Lokai Rose?
Lokai Rose: Our mission is to provide immersive wildlife and nature experiences that inspire respect for the natural world. Our slogan is “everything has a purpose,” and we strive to teach the public about their individual and collective responsibility to protect the planet for future generations. Everything we do is dedicated to strengthening the connection between humans and their environment. We encourage outdoor exploration, community engagement, interaction with ambassador animals and inspire people to question how their decisions affect the world.
Zen Habitats: What are the components of your program?
Lokai Rose: Our highly customizable programs include respectful wildlife interactions and exciting educational experiences. We update our talking points and conservation topics with the most current information available. We also prioritize career experience education to inspire people to pursue careers in science. Our programs are aligned with New Jersey State Learning Standards to ensure our programs are current with the state curriculum. We also always discuss proper animal care and the importance of thorough research before welcoming an animal into the home.
Lokai Rose programs expose children and adults to the wonders of reptiles and their natural environments.
Zen Habitats: What are the most popular reptiles with children?
Lokai Rose: We focus our messaging around smaller, misunderstood creatures that people don’t appreciate enough. As a result, our guests have grown a fondness for our millipede, tarantulas, and snakes.
Zen Habitats: What are the children most curious about learning?
Lokai Rose: The children we work with have beautiful, curious minds and always ask us great questions. The theme that stands out the most to us is their desire to apply our “everything has a purpose” slogan to the different animals they meet. They love to ask us what each animal’s purpose is. They even go as far as to question the purpose of some of the world’s most disliked creatures, including mosquitoes and ticks, which, as annoying as they can be, do still have a purpose!
Zen Habitats: Do you have an exotics vet or technician affiliated with Lokai Rose?
Lokai Rose: We have a phenomenal exotic veterinarian with whom we work closely. She has helped us save countless exotics lives thus far.