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A MEMORY OF ELEPHANTS

CELEBRATE WORLD ELEPHANT DAY AUGUST 10-11, 2019

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ow did a trio of teens raise more than $1,000 for the Zoo’s conservation efforts? It all started with a cute animal video. On an otherwise ordinary day, 15-year-old Erin Chang (right) was scrolling through social media when a video of a baby elephant caught her attention. “It was so cute,” she says, her voice squealy at the memory. “The baby tripped and it fell, and then it ran to its mother.” After repeated viewings, she was inspired to learn more. Researching elephants online, she read a prediction that African elephants would be extinct in the wild by 2020—the year Erin will graduate from high school. The thought of a world without elephants stunned and saddened her. “I thought, ‘How am I going to see an elephant in the wild if they go extinct?’ I brought this up to my writing teach-

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ZO O V I E W

JAMIE PHAM

by BRENDA SCOTT ROYCE

er, and she said that I should do something about it. So, I wrote a poem.” Erin credits that teacher, Clarissa Ngo, for encouraging her to not only act on her inspiration but to think big. What started as a solo effort soon turned into a group project. Erin recruited two classmates, Andrea Chang and Bella Pettengill (left), both artists. Together they turned Erin’s poem into a book, Seven Toes. Andrea created the cover art, while Bella illustrated the interior. “The hardest part was wrapping my brain around the fact that I was actually making a book,” Bella recalls. Though she’s been an artist for as long as she can remember, Bella had never drawn an elephant, so she did a great deal of research. Each illustration took two to three hours to complete. Now, she says, “if you ask me to draw an elephant, I can do it by heart!” The girls created elephant-themed T-shirts, hats, and other merchandise to go along with the book, with all profits going to elephant conservation. In addition to the L.A. Zoo’s World

S U MME R 2019

SEVEN TOES Erin Chang and her classmates turned compassion into action by publishing a book to benefit elephant conservation.

S U MME R 2019

Elephant Day celebration, they’ve participated in fundraisers for Thailand’s Save Elephant Foundation and other charities. “One day in a quiet suburban town,” the book begins, “A memory of elephants walked on down…” (“Memory” is the collective noun for elephants, like a gaggle of geese or a murder of crows.) It’s a fitting start for a book written to help ensure that elephants won’t be relegated to memory. Since watching the cute video that prompted her book project, Erin has not only learned about threats to wild elephants but also ongoing efforts to preserve them. She and her friends now feel confident that elephants will continue to roam the Earth for a long time—especially if more young people find creative ways to get involved. “People our age think they can only make a difference once they’re adults and have a stable job,” Bella says. “They see what’s going on with wildlife and think, ‘Oh, that’s sad.’ But with enough ambition, determination, and hard work, they can actually do something.” “You can make a difference,” Erin agrees. “However small. Everything helps.”

This year’s L.A. Zoo World Elephant Day Celebration will take place on Saturday, August 10, and Sunday, August 11. Festivities include educational activities, conservation crafts, and exclusive behind-the-scenes barn tours (available to the public just once per year). Come tour the state-of-the-art Elephants of Asia habitat and learn more about elephants Billy, Tina, Jewel, and Shaunzi—and the ways the L.A. Zoo and others are working to safeguard elephants in the wild.

LEARN MORE AT

www.lazoo.org/worldelephantday

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Profile for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

Zoo View - Summer 2019  

Award-winning quarterly magazine of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. This issue features an in-depth look at the zookeeping professi...

Zoo View - Summer 2019  

Award-winning quarterly magazine of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. This issue features an in-depth look at the zookeeping professi...