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Times of the Islands Magazine

Community Profile - Dot & Trouper the Blind Racoon of the Wildlife Education Project

Nov 01, 2017 03:46PM ● By Kevin

Trouper and his caretaker, Miss Dot, are a shining example of compassion, respect, and love that can be forged between humans and animals. Photo courtesy of the Wildlife Education Project.

The Wildlife Education Project, headquartered in Sanibel, is a nonprofit inspired by the true story of wildlife rehabilitator Dorothy (Dot) Lee and Trouper the Blind Raccoon, a federally licensed wildlife ambassador that helps to teach the public to treat wildlife and all living things with respect.

As a baby, Trouper was left blind, brain damaged, and unable to feed or defend himself after surviving a beating by a golfer wielding a golf club. At the time, the raccoon was just 8 weeks old.

Lee rescued Trouper and nurtured him through incredible odds of survival, although she usually says, “Trouper rescued me.” He now lives with Lee who provides him with the near-24-hour care he requires. Most raccoons live two to three years in the wild, yet under Lee's care, Trouper is now 7 years old.

Trouper the Blind Raccoon is not a pet, and the Wildlife Education Project teaches everyone that no one should attempt to keep any wildlife as pets. The organization was founded in the hopes that educational intervention would stop other people from perpetrating acts of cruelty such as the one that has left Trouper brain damaged, disabled, and dependent for the rest of his life.

"Together with future leaders like you, we can all connect with and protect our big beautiful world, including our animal neighbors," says the official website of Trouper and friends. "So Trouper, Miss Dot and the WEP work every day to teach you how to do this through Trouper’s life lessons."

The Wildlife Education Project's vision is to instill a lifelong respect for all living things and the environment through its mission of education and empowerment of human kind to create change and take responsibility for the protection of our wildlife and surroundings.

The belief behind the organization is that through education and inspiration, its members can empower individuals, especially children who are our future leaders, to take care of our planet and each other through a mutual respect of all living things. The group works to educate and motivate individuals to look beyond themselves and consider others and the environment for the good of all.

The project's team works to bring change through its unique educational materials and published works that can be used by any educator or leader of an interested group, school and civic organization to teach our principals. The Wildlife Education Project also partners with other like-minded organizations, to create a synergy to advance our common goals.

Through the years, Lee has taken Trouper into schools, groups and organizations to teach.

"Trouper’s job is to teach the public to treat wildlife and all living things with respect," Lee says on the Trouper and Friends website.

The message is meant to resonate with both children and adults.

She always asks her audience, “Why do you think the golfer hurt Trouper?” Her answer is always the same: “They didn’t respect him. We must respect.” Their story has led to a full curriculum of teachings on the subject, as well as books and other published materials.

Trouper and Lee’s journey together has caught the attention of many media outlets, and their story has been chronicled by author Kyle Miller, a Fort Myers, Florida author and retired educator, and National Geographic’s “Unlikely Animal Friends” television series, among others.

“TROUPER—The True Adventures of a Blind Raccoon: The Beginning” is the children’s book by Miller, that includes the Wildlife Education Project's core mission. The book can be purchased at the organization's website.

The duo can be booked for special appearances at schools, group settings, camps, classes and other organizations around Southwest Florida. All the organization asks is that a tax-deductible donation be made to help support the mission.

During the presentation, you will hear the story of Trouper, watch as he grasps fingers and shakes hands with guests, learn about his fascination with music, and hear about other cool Trouper and Dot facts, as well as receive information on the “Trouper & Friends Club!”

Trouper's friends includ Solo the Squirrel and Lily the Dog.

"As Trouper’s Best Friend, I encourage everyone I meet to be COURAGEOUS AND CONFIDENT," the Trouper and Friends fan site says of Solo. "After all, with courage and confidence, humans can help other humans do the right thing that will help save and protect the earth and its animals from harm."

Lily is Trouper's loyal companion. Her mission is to teach loyalty and determination.

"These two characteristics are what make friends become best friends!" Lily's bio says on the site. "Being loyal is one of the best qualities to look for in our good friends, don’t you think? And my determination keeps me helping other people through thick and thin, no matter what tries to stop me."

Lee, or Miss Dot, as she's known among the community, teaches the STOP method, when it comes to encountering animals in the wild that appears to be hurt:
  • S - "Slowly" back up, and never touch the animal.
  • T - "Tell" an adult, such as a parent, guardian, policeman, or fireman so they can...
  • O - "Observe" the animal to decide if it needs help or not. Then the adult will make the...
  • P - "Phone" call to the appropriate rescue service.
The three Wildlife Education Project's pillars that are inspired by Trouper the Blind Raccoon and are the foundation of the organization are: Respect All Living Things, Educate Future Leaders, and Protect Our Wildlife:

Respect All Living Things

The project’s vision is "to encourage the Respect of All Living Things. This includes every living and breathing part of our community and our world. We can no longer take for granted the beauty that surrounds us. We must respect it and protect it to preserve our future in it."

Educate Future Leaders

The organization's mission is "to Educate our Future Leaders and empower this next generation to take the lead to create change. Using our educational platforms, we believe the future leaders we reach will feel motivated and encouraged to connect with and protect the world they live in."

Protect our Wildlife

The nonprofit’s goal is "to advocate for the protection of our most valued natural asset, our world’s wildlife and their natural habitat surroundings. We do this through our simple educational messages and engagement in local communities. You can help too by getting involved today."

All information was written or provided by the Wildlife Education Project, re-purposed for Times of the Islands Magazine. For more information, visit

Nat Geo WILD Airs TV Episode on Trouper the Blind Raccoon and his caregiver Dorothy “Dot” Lee Clip 1

Nat Geo WILD Airs TV Episode on Trouper the Blind Raccoon and his caregiver Dorothy “Dot” Lee Clip 2