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Meet Dana Stangel of Teranga Ranch in Sunland

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Stangel.

Dana, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
In 2006, I started a reptile rescue. I was teaching in East LA, and students were bringing me sick iguanas. I did my best with them, and eventually it became a small non-profit. We took in mainly exotic reptiles that people were unable to care for, brought them back to health and adopted them out to people who knew what they were in for. The problem is that someone goes into a pet store to buy cat litter and they come out with a $10 iguana who is very small and cute. They don’t realize the UV requirements, the dietary requirements, the fact that it will be 5 feet long when it’s done growing…. it’s an impulse buy.

We did a lot of education in elementary schools talking to kids about what makes a good pet and researching ANY animal you want to bring into the home in advance. Then, a mountain lion was killed in my community in 2012. Someone saw a mountain lion in their backyard and called 911. The authorities came out and it was shot dead. I realized the animal problem was much bigger than exotic reptiles. I couldn’t believe there were mountain lions in my neighborhood! And I couldn’t believe someone would call 911 when they saw one. My organization changed its mission to educate people about who their local wildlife is and how they can coexist. Now what we do is presentations: at meetings, in schools, at events, in parks. We talk to people about their local wildlife and we provide humane ideas for dealing with wildlife in the backyard, on your street, in your attic, etc.

Next year, we are beginning to do fieldtrips. We will take people to places where they can see local native wildlife and give them an educational presentation on the bus on the way there. It really bothers me that they don’t have to teach about local native wildlife at any level of school in California. I’m going to be working on creating legislation to correct that. One more thing I’m trying to do is bring an urban wildlife center to Los Angeles. I’d like a place where people can bring sick, injured or orphaned wildlife for rehabilitation, a place that is a hub for home-rehabbers, and a place where people can come and see local native wildlife that cannot be rehabbed back to the wild.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
It has not been a smooth road. The hardest part is getting donations to stay afloat. We’re very small and many don’t know about us or what we do. My goal is to create an organization that will live beyond me. If I can’t pay people to work for us, we aren’t sustainable. I don’t have a business degree, and running a nonprofit is definitely a business! It’s been a steep learning curve.

Please tell us about Teranga Ranch.
We do a variety of things that nobody else is doing. We have a local depredation program. If a bobcat or coyote or raccoon is eating your chickens, we will reimburse you if you agree to work with us on creating a more solid chicken coop. We help people with wildlife situations in their backyards and we help animals get to rehabbers. We will come to your home and do a wildlife survey. We’ll let you know what you can do to make it less wildlife friendly. We have a Raccoon-in-the-Attic-Kit that can be rented for the cost of batteries for a week (it’s a radio and a light!). We have some new programs where we will do some bat identification in your backyard with you (we have a super cool bat detector!) or put a wildlife camera in your backyard for the week. It’s all about learning about local native wildlife, appreciating it and coexisting without traps or poisons.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
It’s been an amazing journey. I love the freedom of having done it the way I’ve done it. It’s all a learning process. It is continually growing and changing, and that’s fine with me.


  • $50 Backyard Wildlife Advice/Deterrents (Private Consult in your backyard to discuss your wildlife situation and give recommendations.)
  • $50 Backyard Camera Capture (We’ll put one of our wildlife cameras in your backyard for the week, check it over with you and then give you the memory card! Whooo’s there?)
  • $125 Backyard Bats (Find out which bats live in your backyard! Our wildlife specialist will come to you (Los Angeles Area) for 45 minutes of local bat education and an informal backyard bat survey using our new, super high tech bat locator. Up to 10 people can be in attendance.)
  • $120 Monarchs and Marine Mammals Field Trip Jan. 27, 2018 (details at
  • $60 Tule Elk / California Living Museum Field Trip Feb. 24th 2018 (details at

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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