The National Zoo's Senior Curator Is Here To Answer Our Questions!

Illustration for article titled The National Zoos Senior Curator Is Here To Answer Our Questions!

How does The National Zoo care for all the different animals under its roof? Senior curator and giant panda curator at the National Zoo, Brandie Smith, is here to take questions about the Zoo's behind-the-scene's workings, animal conservation, pandas, and anything else you've always wanted to know!

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As senior curator, Smith is responsible for overseeing the great cats, elephants, great apes, and more. As panda curator, she is also directly responsible for the care of the Zoo's giant pandas. She has a doctorate from the University of Maryland, where she focused especially on managing large herds of animals and also does extensive research in population genetics and the best ways for zoos to manage and care for animals.

She'll be joining us from 11:00 a.m. - noon (Pacific time), so start asking her questions now about working with pandas, The National Zoo, herd behaviors, and the role of zoos in animal conservation and management.

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Image: Giant Pandas photo by Ann Batdorf, National Zoo.

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DISCUSSION

I've always been a strong believer in animal rights and just generally letting animals live in their natural surroundings. But I've always been a believer in decent zoos. A lot of people claim that zoos (even responsible ones) are crimes against nature and all that, but it seems like zoos serve a long term purpose bent towards helping animals on the large scale. Generally, children's first and only experience with wild animals (in developed countries) comes through zoos. So, I feel that if a zoo provides young people with this experience, it might subtly pursued them to believe stronger in conservation efforts when they grow up. Sure it unnatural for these animals to be taken from their habitats, but it seems the positive out ways the negative. I still feel weird when I go to the zoo though. Do you deal with this conversation a lot? How do you feel about it? Thanks.