This is podcast #63 with Drs. Chia Tan and Fred Bercovitch.
You might notice some some of the details are out of date in this podcast - it was recorded in March 2015! - but the themes are as relevant today as ever!
The setting for this interview was one of the symposiums for our Primatology and Wildlife Science graduate program at Kyoto University, where students and wildlife professionals gathered to share their research and efforts towards conservation, environmental stewardship and advocacy.
At the time, Chia Tan was working in San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research (now the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance), and so I took the opportunity to talk with her, among other things, about the role of zoos in conservation.
As will become obvious to you during the interview, Chia is absolutely passionate about people and nature. Though trained as a scientific researcher, she’s been a driver of numerous conservation initiatives that have a strong human element to them. We talk about two in this interview - TIPS, or the training in primatology series, which helps motivated young conservationists and researchers from primate range countries attend international training programs and conferences, and Little Green Guards, which aims to foster nature appreciation in children through education, reflection and action, with the hope to inspire and prepare the next generation of Earth’s guardians.
Chia remains the VP and Global Program Director for Little Green Guards, but she’s also VP and Treasurer for Ludi International, a US non-profit dedicated to preserving biological diversity on Earth by inspiring and empowering people through scientific research, education and capacity building. She’s also adjunct professor of Anthropology at San Diego State University and the School of Agroforestry Engineering and Planning at Tongren University (Guizhou, China), and she sits on the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Primate Specialist Group. And I’m probably missing a few things here as well!
Now, in the interview, you’ll also hear from Dr. Fred Bercovitch, who previously worked at San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s Behavioral Biology Division before becoming professor at Kyoto University’s Primate Research Institute until his retirement in 2017. If you want to learn more about Fred, you can go way back in time and listen to The PrimateCast #2, which was published on April 12th, 2012!
Fred had invited Chia to the symposium, as their time at San Diego Zoo overlapped and he thought she’d be an excellent role model for our own graduate students in the program.
And so, kind of coming full circle to zoos before we jump into the interview, when Fred was here at Kyoto University, he was teaching some undergraduate courses in Conservation Biology and Zoo Biology. When he retired in 2017, a couple of years after this interview, I actually inherited those courses, and I’m still teaching them today.
So in some ways, talking about zoos and conservation with Fred and Chia turned out to be a little bit of foreshadowing for my own future.
I hope you enjoy this interview with Drs. Chia Tan and Fred Bercovitch on The Primatecast. When you're done, you can browse among loads of other audio content from primatologists and conservationists from around the world.
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Photo Courtesy: Fred Bercovitch / Ludi International
The PrimateCast original score: Andre Goncalves
Closing Credits: Katherine Majewski