Activity 3 Interview Activity

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1 Activity 3 Interview Activity Objective & Overview: Students will experience a broad array of viewpoints by collecting other people s views on panda conservation issues. Teacher Background Information: When did people outside of China learn about giant pandas? You might be surprised to learn that despite their current popularity, giant pandas were a fairly recent "discovery" for people living outside of China. The first Westerner to describe the animal was probably French missionary and naturalist Père Armand David, who, while in China, described a panda skin in his journal in In 1916, German zoologist Hugo Weigold became the first Westerner to see a live giant panda a cub he bought while on an expedition. Why are giant pandas rare in the wild? Once far more widespread both in lowland and highland areas over much of eastern and central China, giant pandas are now endangered with extinction due to the following factors: habitat destruction the greatest threat, due to China's growing population, cities, farms, and timber industry. Friends of the National Zoo Page 17

2 habitat fragmentation as remaining habitat is carved up, giant pandas stuck in smaller forest patches face a greater threat of extinction. One threat is that giant pandas become cut off from other supplies of bamboo. Bamboos found within the giant panda's range usually die off every 30 to 80 years. Without access to new feeding areas, giant pandas may starve. poaching although penalties for killing giant pandas are severe in China, some are still killed for their pelts, which command a high price on the black market. slow reproduction giant pandas breed slowly and cannot quickly replenish depleted populations. trapping traps set to catch musk deer and other animals sometimes catch giant pandas instead. Many or all of these factors affect each giant panda population. Enforcing laws to protect giant pandas is a challenge for conservationists and it usually requires the cooperation of local communities, some of which may be more receptive to panda conservation plans than others. One way to assess local attitudes is via surveys of public awareness and support for wildlife conservation. What is being done in China to save giant panda habitat? Friends of the National Zoo Page 18

3 The giant panda is a protected species in China. It receives the highest degree of protection afforded an animal, and penalties are severe for its capture or killing. Since 1963, 33 giant panda reserves have been set aside to protect these endangered animals and their habitat. China has also set up panda breeding centers and drawn up an official National Plan for the Conservation of Giant Pandas and Their Habitats. The Chinese government aims to double the size of reserve acreage, link reserves via corridors of natural habitat, prohibit logging where it is most detrimental to giant pandas, and relocate farms when necessary in order to create connected habitats. National Zoo scientists work closely with Chinese scientists and conservationists on their ongoing efforts to learn more about, protect, and improve the situation for giant pandas. What is the National Zoo doing to help? The National Zoo has embarked upon a ten-year research and training plan that aims to ensure the giant panda survival both in zoos and in the wild. Zoo scientists will continue to help train Chinese scientists in panda study and medical and conservation practices geared toward protecting giant pandas and their habitat. Meanwhile, at the Zoo, Tian Tian and Mei Xiang will be the "Washington ambassadors," helping zoo staff and the public to better understand the mysterious and unique giant panda. Hopefully, they will mate and help the National Zoo once again become a satellite of panda breeding. Friends of the National Zoo Page 19

4 Each year for ten years, the National Zoo will contribute $1 million to the China Wildlife Conservation Association. This money will support giant panda and panda reserve conservation projects in China. Meanwhile, panda research and education programs will be ongoing at the National Zoo. Materials: Pencil or pen Panda Conservation Survey Form Directions: 1. Explain to students why efforts to protect wild giant pandas cannot easily survive without local support and awareness. One tool conservationists use to gauge local awareness and support for endangered species programs is the survey. Explain that they will get to see what it is like to ask someone their views about giant panda conservation. Stress that for the first part of the interview, it is important not to influence people while interviewing them and to consider all viewpoints. Most conservation issues are complex, and many facets and strong feelings are involved. 2. Students should research the giant panda and its plight in class before embarking upon this activity. Armed with a basic knowledge of the animal and its conservation plight, they should then choose three adults they know and interview them about what they think about giant pandas and the efforts to save them. They should use the following Panda Conservation Survey Form to write down their Friends of the National Zoo Page 20

5 results. Give students at least a week to conduct the interviews. Initially, they should collect the information requested on the form: date, name, gender, and age. 3. Next, students should share with their interviewees a quick outline of the giant panda's plight from a bulleted script they wrote themselves. The script should give basic facts about giant pandas' food and habitat requirements and about conflicts between human and wildlife needs in central China (timber-cutting, illegal hunting, and farmer relocation, for example). After reading the script, students should allow their interviewees a moment's reflection and then ask them to rate, on a scale of one to five with five being the most important to them and one being the least the following questions. They should note their interviewees' answers on the Survey Form: Question 1: "How important to you is the survival of wild giant pandas?" (On a scale of one to five, with five being the most important to them and one being the least.) Question 2: "If necessary, how strongly would you support the idea of relocating people or businesses to protect pandas?" (On a scale of one to five, with five being the most important to them and one being the least.) Question 3: "How strongly do you think you would support this relocation issue if you lived in China?" (On a scale of one to Friends of the National Zoo Page 21

6 five, with five being the most important to them and one being the least.) 4. After collecting the different viewpoints, have students present their findings to the class, and look for common concerns and conflicting views. 5. Help the class tally the results on the chalk board, looking at the different viewpoints by gender and age. (Age of interviewees can be grouped as follows: 18 to 24, 25 to 34, 35 to 54, 55 to 64, and 65 and above.) For example, do women have different opinions on this subject? Are there any differences between age groups? 6. Once the gender and age (demographic) information is collected and shown on the board, encourage your class to create graphs showing the differences, if any, of viewpoint percentages on a particular environmental issue. For example, 33% of the women surveyed may say that giant panda conservation is a major issue, compared to 25% of the men. Allow your students time to categorize the data, calculate percentages, and figure out how to present the results in a bar graph or pie chart. You will probably get some interesting presentations based on the students' own viewpoints! Friends of the National Zoo Page 22

7 Panda Conservation Survey Form 1.) Date of interview: \ \ Person interviewed: Gender of interviewed person: Age of interviewed person: Question 1: Question 2: Question 3: 2.) Date of interview: \ \ Person interviewed: Gender of interviewed person: Age of interviewed person: Question 1: Question 2: Question 3: 3.) Date of interview: \ \ Person interviewed: Gender of interviewed person: Age of interviewed person: Question 1: Question 2: Question 3: Friends of the National Zoo Page 23

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