Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Fall Community Lecture Series

Co-sponsored by the Smithsonian–Mason School of Conservation
Wednesday Evenings | October 1 – 29, 2014 | 7 p.m.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute | Front Royal, Virginia


Global Canid Conservation: Multidisciplinary Approach to Conserve Rare and Endangered Canids
The canid (dog-like) family is diverse in shape, size, and natural distributions. Ranging from the smallest—the fennec fox weighing less than 1 kilogram—to the largest—the timber wolf exceeding 50 kilograms—at least one species of canid lives on every continent except Antarctica. Due to habitat loss, depletion of prey species, and persecution, extinction threatens six of 36 wild canid species, and many others are in decline. SCBI’s research biologist Dr. Nucharin Songsasen will discuss the fascinating nature of canids and share her experiences using multidisciplinary approaches to study and conserve wild canids in zoos and in their natural habitats in South America and Southeast Asia. She will also explain how innovative reproductive technologies can help manage canid species.


A Conservation Ethic for China: Finding a Place for Animals in a Developing World
As one of the founding fathers of the modern conservation movement in China, professor Pan Wenshi started his conservation work on giant pandas with George Schaller and then established his own 17-year study of giant pandas in the 1980s. He will share how both the Chinese government and international organizations used outcomes of this study. He will also share his research on the endangered white-headed langurs and white dolphins. These research projects evolved to help local residents resolve the lack of energy, clean water, education, and healthcare. He explored effective ways to balance biodiversity protection and local economic development, and connect the government to local people. He will discuss his years of conservation work in China, how local people and the government perceive conservation, and how science can help humans and wildlife live in harmony.


Unlocking the Mysteries of the Adorable Red Panda
The strikingly-patterned and charismatic red panda, Ailurus fulgens, is a taxonomically distinct carnivore that is vulnerable to extinction. Red pandas eat only bamboo and have developed many unique adaptations to survive on diet of such low nutritional quality. The popular zoo species is historically distributed among an important biological hotspot, the Himalayans, where only about 10,000 inidividuals remain. Although the National Zoo and Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute have been at the forefront of red panda breeding, management, and research for three decades, there is still much we have to learn about this species. Our lack of biological knowledge is a major hurdle to long-term survival of red panda populations in captivity and the wild. Drs. Copper Aitken-Palmer and Elizabeth Freeman will share their knowledge about red pandas and describe research they are conducting to advance the well-being of this adorable species through health and reproductive initiatives.


A Race Against Time, a Collaborative Effort to Save Frogs from Extinction
The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation project is a Smithsonian partnership focused on saving some of Panama’s most endangered amphibians. The reptile unit at the National Zoo supports the project through captive breeding programs, educational outreach, disease monitoring, and population surveys for some of the most imperiled amphibians in Central America. Matt Evans, who has participated in this program for the past five years, will discuss his field excursion to the Darien Gap in search of Atelopus glyphus, one of the harlequin toads facing extinction in the region due to the spread of amphibian chytrid fungus, a pathogenic fungal disease decimating amphibian populations around the globe.


Conserving the Public Interest: Virginia Working Landscapes and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Eighty years ago, the founding father of the modern American conservation movement Aldo Leopold understood that “conservation will ultimately boil down to rewarding the private landowner who conserves the public interest.” As the demand on our shared landscape grows with each passing season, this prescient view has never been more true than it is today, especially in the eastern United States, where more than 90 percent of lands are privately held. In 2010, SCBI began the Virginia Working Landscapes program to address a grass-roots demand for access to best management practices for conservation of biodiversity and nature’s benefits on the suburban, agricultural, and forested mosaic of the region. The director of Virginia Working Landscapes, Tom Akre will discuss how the project leverages the capacity of the Smithsonian with a regional network of federal and state partners, conservation NGOs, private landowners, and volunteer citizen scientists to promote sustainable use of Virginia’s landscapes through ecosystem research, habitat monitoring, and community engagement.


Wednesday evenings at 7 p.m., October 1–29
The series is free and open to the public. Seating is limited, so arrive early.

Lectures will be held at the SCBI’s new campus
Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) Dining Hall
1500 Remount Rd
Front Royal, VA 22630

The SMSC Dining Hall will be open for dinner from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m. on lecture dates. Please RSVP by email to jhalpin1@gmu.edu if you plan to come for dinner.


Smithsonian Mason School of Conservation (SMSC) Dining Hall
1500 Remount Road
Front Royal, VA 22630

From the east:

  • Take I-66 west to the Linden/Front Royal exit #13
  • At end of ramp, turn left, under freeway to stoplight at Route 55
  • Turn right (west) on Route 55 and travel five miles into Front Royal
  • Turn left at signal, Route 522/Remount Road
  • Drive approximately 2 miles and take a left into Gate 2 and follow event parking signs

From Rappahannock:

  • From US 211 take 522 north ~ 12 miles
  • Turn right into Gate 2 and follow event parking signs

For More Information

Contact the SCBI/FONZ Education Office by calling: (540) 635-6540
Contact the SCBI/FONZ Education Office by e-mail: SCBIeducation@si.edu