Anthropology and psychology students at UTC enrolled in a Primate Behavior class launched a new event at the Chattanooga Zoo called “Fall for the Animals.” Students impersonated people and events related to primate and animal exhibits, to the delight of zoo patrons.

IMG_1649 (3)“It was great!” exclaimed Marisa Ogles, spokesperson for the Chattanooga Zoo.  “The UTC students were engaged and they engaged zoo guests.  Their presentation was well researched—their contribution enriched the experience of our guests.”

This living history demonstration featured students who took on a variety of roles. There was an impersonation of chimpanzee expert Dr. Jane Goodall, a re-enactment of a Hindu legend about the Hanuman monkey god, and an explanation of how monkeys use their tails. Besides primates, snow leopards were also featured.

The scenarios provided information about the discovery of several species, important researchers, and the conservation challenges that endangered species face today—all in an entertaining way for zoo visitors.

Living history incorporates historical activities, dress, and information as a way to give observers a sense of stepping back in time as an educational medium.

“This is the first event we know of where street theatre and living history has been attempted at a zoo—it’s historic! The students performing were taught how to act like monkeys by Theatre and Speech Instructor Patrick Sweetman,” said Dr. H. Lyn Miles, instructor of the class.

Students had an opportunity to interact with several hundred zoo guests, who enjoyed the presentation on a recent drizzly Saturday.

“This Living History event provides everyone with a more engaged learning experience that draws us in,” said William Smith, junior marketing major.

Miles is hoping to organize another student presentation in spring 2014 semester, possibly focused on animal intelligence

“I sure hope they decide to do it,” Ogles said.  “It was such a unique idea.  And it’s a great partnership between the Chattanooga Zoo and UTC.”

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