When I was a little girl and would walk through the gate at the Atlanta Zoo I always wanted to head to the elephant exhibit first. They were my favorite animal. Due to the nature of my curriculum I have never been able to lead a field trip to the zoo, but I have gone along on my fair share of trips with my own children and their classrooms as a chaperone. The kids always enjoyed visiting with Starla, the Elephant. She could hold a paint brush in her trunk and painted several masterpieces each day. The children were entralled.
Today, the Atlanta Zoo is one of the most premiere facilities in the United States, but as the zoo’s own website states, in 1984, a series of highly publicized events belied deteriorating conditions at the Zoo, prompting Parade Magazine to label the institution as one of the top 10 worst in the nation. A subsequent investigation lost the Zoo its accreditation, and an outraged public demanded that the facility be closed. Mayor Andrew Young appointed an emergency crisis team. In support of a new vision for the Zoo, Young appointed Dr. Terry Maple as interim director. The team set out to address immediate issues, beginning with reducing the collection in order to provide more appropriate living spaces for the animals.
Since it is 2008 you would think all of our nation’s zoos are up to speed regarding animal facilities, but apparently some are not including the Dallas Zoo. My blog friend NYCEducator posted a video and some information yesterday about Jenny, the Elephant and how comedian Lilly Tomlin has been speaking out about Jenny’s living conditions.
It seems some folks want Jenny to live out her final days in Tennessee at an elephant sanctuary while just a few days ago the zoo decided to upgrade the elephant facility and keep Jenny where she is.
Situations like these beg for use in the classroom. Students could research the problem and obtain the various points of view before arriving at their own. This activity hits on activism, citizen responsibility, research, letter writing, analysis, etc.
Here are some links if you want to get involved:
The mayor’s email address firstname.lastname@example.org
News stories here and here regarding the zoo’s decision to keep Jenny.
an article regarding Lilly Tomlin's involvement and a blog article that attempts to stay with the facts
Other bloggers are participating with Wordless Wednesday today. You can find them here