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Posted On:
March 7, 2016
at 6:46 pm

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LIONS and TIGERS and BEARS – LET’S KEEP ‘EM – OH MY!

The Phoenix Zoo Shows Off Its Conservationist Side

BY: Michele Peters, AZSciTech Writer

The Phoenix Zoo, known as the “go-to” place to visit lions and tigers and bears and so many other fun, furry creatures, the big and the small on the Arizona Trail, Africa Trail, Tropics Trail and the Children’s Trail, has a surprise in store. There is an entirely other side to the Phoenix Zoo.

On March 11, 2016, from 6 – 8 p.m., the Phoenix Zoo turns its sights to the important topic of conservation and invites all children ages 8-12, teens, and families to participate in a wide range of fun activities and become for that one night, a Conservation Scientist.

So just what is a conservation scientist? Someone who works to conserve species and habitat and make life better for those species – animals and plants and the habitat where the species are to be found.

Serious stuff, but the Phoenix Zoo and its many activities booths show how much fun this can be.

How about trying your hand at a survey for Chiricahua leopard frogs just like it’s done in the wild? What is a Chiricahua leopard frog and why do they need to be surveyed? The Chiricahua leopard frog is a member of the Ranidae family, the true frogs. And when it wants attention, its call sounds like a SNORE! Previously found in more than 400 aquatic sites in the Southwest, the Chiricahua leopard frog is now found at fewer than 80. In Arizona, the Chiricahua has declined more than any other leopard frog. The Phoenix Zoo along with Arizona’s Department of Game and Fish, and the USFWS are trying to diminish threats through captive breeding and reintroduction efforts. That’s conservation and conservation scientists at work.

At another booth, collect data on California floater mussels. Why is the California floater mussel important enough that data needs to be collected on it? Because so many of these types of mussels (bivalves) are becoming sick and declining; however, and it is a big however, this particular species is a clear indicator of aquatic environmental health.

With this level of importance, Sarena Randall Gill, Community Engagement Manager at the Phoenix Zoo, quickly commented on why the Phoenix Zoo is a part of the AZSciTech Festival, “The Phoenix Zoo has been part of the AZ SciTech Festival since the event first launched five years ago. It gives us a unique opportunity to be part of a statewide effort to reach out and engage people, especially children and teens, about things they may not know exist or thought about before visiting the Zoo. We enjoy educating attendees about critical issues and important topics like conservation.”

But when questioned why hold this particular type of event, Gill’s answer was quite compelling. “One of the most important reasons …is to showcase and highlight all of the different areas of STEM that go into becoming a conservation scientist. This type of event and being part of the Festival serves to make the entire subject extremely approachable to kids and teens. Hopefully, after learning about conservation and the job of a conservation scientist, they might go into this field of work; especially teens who visit, they might seriously consider the field of conservation and choose a career as a conservation scientist.”

The event is free, but advanced registration is required as space is limited with activities designed for ages 8-12, teens, and their families. Meet real conservation scientists and learn about the important work they do with the Phoenix Zoo, and discover ways that you can participate in conservation…and possibly a future career!

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