Cameron GEAR UP Students Participated in a Virtual Tour of the Tulsa Zoo

Twenty ninth and 10th grade Cameron GEAR UP students recently participated in a virtual “Zoo 2 U” program with the Tulsa Zoo. The program was conducted by Tulsa Zoo Education Specialists Sarah Varnell and Tricia Hindley. Varnell led students through the program “The Zoo Dating Game”. This program was created to educate students on the importance of healthy animal populations and conservation within zoos, and the use of the Species Survival Plan to ensure genetic diversity among species. Students learned of several types of data that needs to be recorded to help zookeepers make healthy breeding decisions among animals, such as the animal’s gender, age, parents, location, and breeding history. Varnell then presented students with a challenge where they were given information about a set of animals and had to determine from the data which pair would be most suited for breeding. Students were introduced to Rocky the Aldabra tortoise and Ande the long-tailed chinchilla. Andy is named for the Andes Mountains where her species of chinchillas are found in Chile. Aldabra tortoises and wild, long-tailed chinchillas are both considered a vulnerable species.   The field trip was sponsored by Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP. Eastern received a $17 million federal GEAR UP grant in 2017, and will serve more than 3,000 students in 39 area schools for seven years.

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