Survivor-Like Contest Raises Money for Charity

Durham Warriors Survival Challenge pic

Durham Warriors Survival Challenge

Leveraging over 25 years of experience working with animals, Josh Ruffell is a Los Angeles-based freelance animal trainer and consultant who has worked on films such as Bad Boys 2, Hidalgo, and Cheaper by the Dozen. From 2005 to 2008, Josh Ruffell served as a wildlife consultant on the CBS show Survivor.

Now in its 34th season, Survivor has developed a large following of fans interested in attempting the team-oriented challenges that those on the show complete. Only a select few each season are chosen to appear on the show’s remote locations around the world, but one former winner of the show, Bob Crowley, allows fans and Survivor alumni the opportunity to compete in similar challenges at his farm in Maine.

Hundreds of fans gather at the farm each year to watch contestants take part in the Durham Warriors Survival Challenge, which raises money for the Durham Warrior Project, a nonprofit organization which provides financial support to military veterans. The four-day event functions the same as Survivor in that, upon losing a challenge, one tribe must vote a member out. Survivor alumni Adam Klein, Susie Smith, and LJ McKanas, among others, attended the 2017 event, which was won by Bethany Sass, a Chicago-based accountant.

Helping Endangered Sea Turtle Species

 Southwest Fisheries Science Center pic

Southwest Fisheries Science Center

A graduate of Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Josh Ruffell has over 25 years of experience working with animals in a variety of settings. Josh Ruffell specializes in working with reptiles.

After a 2004 study of data from 32 different index sites, assessors from Southwest Fisheries Science Center found a 48 to 67 percent decline in the number of nesting mature female green sea turtles over the previous three generations. That conclusion led the International Union for Conservation of Nature to list the green sea turtle as an endangered species. The decline in the green sea turtle population is attributed to the growth in commercial harvest of the turtles and their eggs as well as pollution and diseases such as fibropapillomatosis (FP), which causes tumors to form on their mouths, eyes, and skin. More than one-fifth of dead green sea turtles found in Florida from 1980 to 2005 had FP tumors.

However, a recent study published in the U.S. Geological Survey detailed a breakthrough in FP research, in which scientists successfully engineered the skin of green sea turtles in a laboratory. Consequently, they were able to grow the virus that causes the cauliflower-shaped tumors in the turtles, which in the future should lead to better-tailored treatment options for turtles affected by FP. It was the first time ever that researchers were able to grow the skin of a non-mammal.

Reptiles in the Movie and Television Industry

Jules Sylvester's Reptile Rentals Inc pic

Jules Sylvester’s Reptile Rentals Inc

Currently serving as a freelance animal trainer and consultant in Los Angeles, California, Josh Ruffell works with a variety of companies in the television and movie industry. Josh Ruffell often works as an animal trainer for Jules Sylvester’s Reptile Rentals Inc. in Thousand Oaks, California, where he works with reptiles and other animals for numerous Hollywood production companies.

Started in 1980, Jules Sylvester’s Reptile Rentals Inc. was created to provide experienced animal trainers to work with animals, in particular reptiles, being used in the movie and television industry. With an incident-free safety record for more than 30 years, Reptile Rentals is highly regarded by the animal care organization the American Humane Association.

Jules Sylvester’s Reptile Rentals has been used in many well-known movie productions, such as Lemony Snicket, Arachnophobia, and Snakes on a Plane. Animal Trainers from the company have also served as snake catchers on out-of-town movie and television sets where native rattlesnakes can potentially cause issues for production cast and crew.

Top Diving Spots in Japan


Miyakojima Island pic

Miyakojima Island

A passionate animal enthusiast, Josh Ruffell works as a freelance animal consultant and trainer for movies and television shows in Hollywood, California. He has worked on numerous productions and served as an animal trainer with the Animal Actors Show at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. Also a fan of scuba diving, Josh Ruffell maintains a PADI SCUBA certification.

Since Japan is an island, the country features a huge range of diving spots that scuba enthusiasts can enjoy. Some of Japan’s top diving destinations include:

Miyakojima Island. Well known for its clear ocean, Miyakojima Island grants divers the chance to view coral reefs and swim with sea turtles. The island also offers a range of underwater tunnels, caves, and arches for more experienced divers.

Yonaguni Island. Found along Okinawa’s Yaeyama Island Chain, Yonaguni Island houses the Yonaguni Monument, a stepped rock formation. This site was first discovered in 1986 and has become one of Japan’s most famous areas to dive. In addition to enjoying the large rock formation, divers can spot hammerhead sharks between May and November.

Chichijima. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Chichijima has been called the Galapagos of the Orient. The area is found roughly 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo and provides visitors with numerous opportunities for seeing rays, dolphins, and whales.

Zamami. This small island draws in divers for both its beauty and whale preservation efforts. While diving, individuals are granted the chance to view Zamami’s colorful fish and corals, and in the surrounding waters, visitors frequently spot humpback whales.