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SSYAC Meeting 4 - Challenging Perceptions of Zoos (Archived: Fall 2017 - Spring 2018)

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Science +4 Age Level High School (16 to 18 years old)

The fourth meeting of the SSYAC was held in collaboration with the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. We meet both human staff and animal members of the zoo (Clementine the Striped Skunk), and discussed the Smithsonian’s Earth Optimism initiative with Dr. Skorton and the zoo’s Director, Dr. Steven Monfort. We'll also discuss the responses to the previous assignment about the “Second Opinion” website.

During the "Challenging Perceptions of Zoos" activity, we discussed how the National Zoo carries out its mission: “We Save Species.” Through the lens of the Western Lowland gorilla, Cuban crocodile, Sloth bear, and California sea lion, and the Asian elephant—we considered how these endangered animals could be saved. SSYAC members participated in a role-playing scenario with members of the zoo education staff.  Post-meeting, members had the opportunity to walk the zoo grounds. It was wild!

Special thanks to Friends of the National Zoo colleagues Laura Klopfer and Erika Novak for creating and implementing the education activities.

KEYWORDS: student engagement, teen council, conservation biology, Earth Optimism

SSYAC Meeting 4 Slide

Tracie Spinale

National Zoo Map

Smithsonian National Zoo

Steve Monfort

Smithsonian Magazine

Section Slide - Gorilla

Tracie Spinale

1.50p Gorilla single

National Postal Museum

Blank Postcard of Alligators at the Zoo

Smithsonian Archives - History Div

32c American Crocodile single

National Postal Museum

Crocodile hunt; Tentyritae attacking crocodiles

Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum

A Croc's Tale

National Zoo

25c Northern Sea Lions single

National Postal Museum

​Why Do Sea Lions Bark?

Smithsonian Channel

Postcard of Elephants Taking a "Dust Bath"

Smithsonian Archives - History Div

"The First Bull Elephant" 1909

Smithsonian Institution Archives

29c Elephant single

National Postal Museum

The Secret Out. [Print advertising.] 1884

Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Elephant pin

National Museum of American History

Ivory Throne Leg

Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery


National Museum of African Art