November 26, 2019
“Frogs are actually kind of cute,” Castiglione said.
She gestured at a glass enclosure a couple feet away, housing strawberry poison dart frogs. A shiny red frog covered black dots stared up at the glass, breathing quickly.
“They’re really cute,” Castiglione repeated, a smile tracing her lips.
She and assistant curator Ed Smith said displaying animals in zoos motivate people to engage in environmentally-friendly practices which may help those animals. Smith said zoos first grab people’s attention through creating an emotional attachment, and then use that attachment to benefit the animals.
“At the zoo we have a wonderful platform for discussing [conservation] with visitors,” Smith said. “Through having a collection of living animals and then we also have the interpretive staff that helps prompt some of those discussions. Conservation is one of our primary messages we want to get across.”
Wippenbech stressed everyone plays a role in protecting ecosystems like the Amazon. He recommended reducing plastic consumption, using energy efficient cars and appliances, and recycling. Kylie Buening, senior and member of KHS’ Environmental Sustainability class, encouraged students to recycle and learn more about what is happening to the Earth right now.
“The easiest thing for students to do is focus on reducing their waste,” Buening said. “We [collect] recycling every Friday as a class, and usually there’s a lot of nasty, unrecyclable things in the bins. Education is important, the more knowledgeable people are about the environment, the more they can help it.”
The Environmental Sustainability class participates in different projects throughout the year to help improve the community surrounding the school and the environment as a whole. Animal Keepers like Castiglione, Colton and Wippenbech said they want students to help out with projects such as the ones Environmental Sustainability hosts.
“I really believe that a more diverse planet and ecosystem is good for aesthetic interests and staying alive as a species,” Smith said. “For human beings, it’s critical we pay attention to natural history, that means our environment and the animals living in it. We’re all locked and tied in [to the Earth], it’s the only boat we’ve got. Pay attention to it.”