#WYSE2017 Day 2: Smithsonian National Zoo & Washington Monuments!

Hi everyone! Day two of WYSE began with a breakfast that was awesome, but also kind of stressful. Here’s what my morning was in brief:

-Gets up at 5:30 AM to write WYSE day 1 blog

-Showers at 6:45 am

-Breakfast at 7:00 am

-Realizes I left something important in my room at 7:40 am

-Is informed that leaving time is 8:00 am

…..Oh.

Long story short, let’s just sayyyyy I’m not quite familiar with this campus as of yet….Anyway, I made it in and got what I needed, but I was officially nerve-wrecked and the day had only began.

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Smithsonian National Zoo!

Of course with zoo trips comes infinite streams of photos of cute and cuddly animals right? Well, yes, right. But this zoo in particular was very special. Special how, you ask? It was on a gigantic hill.

Not only was the hill literally gigantic, we had “breakout groups” which were essentially panels on different topics that we previously chose. Mine was at the very top of the hill…10 minutes before the panel, guess where I was? At the very bottom of the hill. Not kidding, it takes at least 20-25 minutes to span the zoo from top to bottom walking straight up/down. I call the first half of my day: running around because you’re either late or so turned around you don’t know what to do next. Nevertheless, she persisted.

Pretty zoo pictures!

Of course, there are a lot more pictures I could share, but again, these posts take longgg to write with pictures and things of that sort.

My favorite part of the zoo trip was hearing from three speakers answering questions my fellow delegates asked. Here are the basic take-home messages of the panel:

-Along with physical numbers, genetic diversity within a species is just as critical.

-The wild is still stressful for an animal. We like to think that zoos are cages and therefore stress the animals because they are deprived of their natural abilities, but that’s not the case when you think about it.

-What we perceive as good and bad emotions from an animal’s behavior could be the total opposite.

(For example, pacing animals are actually less stressed than animals that are stagnant! This was discovered through measuring stress hormones in the animal’s feces. Gross, but effective!)

-Enrichment is different for every species, and individuals in every species are different as well. Even animals have distinct personalities.

-Extinction is actually an inevitable process. We as humans just shouldn’t speed it up.

Washington D.C.: White House & Monuments!

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What didn’t occur to me is the fact that there has been protesters in front of the white house for literal decades, due to an expired permit apparently since the Reagan administration. As long as they’re there, they can’t be kicked out. That also means they can’t leave. #Dedication. (Btw — the sign the man is holding says “YES! Build the wall! But around Trump and make HIM pay for it!”).

This whole trip is bringing back all that 7th grade nostalgia…(honestly Mr. Martin, thank you.) It’s nice because it’s not a new place to me, but I’m experiencing it with all new people. I loved seeing the monuments again and really taking in the enormity of them vs me as a person. It’s always fun to feel like an ant next to historical buildings. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a huge amount of time at the monuments, so I didn’t get all the pictures I wanted, but these will suffice.

In all, day 2 of WYSE was completely exhausting, but very very educational and appreciated. I loved the zoo and seeing the animals. I also loved learning what current zoologists and conservation biologists are doing to help protect or help certain species come back from near extinction (apparently the cheetah was supposed to be extinct with everything else that died in the last Ice Age, but they’re warriors as well!)

Thanks for reading, sorry it’s late, until tomorrow!

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