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Mike in the USA

Written By: admin on March 7, 2009 No Comment

Thus far, this year has turned into a whirlwind of fruitful travels to ensure the project’s progress. First on the itinerary… Mike spent a few weeks in the USA. He went on a request by the San Diego Zoo, for him to accompany their PR team to meetings in both New York City and Washington DC to talk about the opening of the zoo’s new elephant exhibit, Elephant Odyssey and Elephants Without Borders recent collaboration with the zoo. He also planned the trip to include a jaunt to San Diego to spend time with Fred, our research “point man”, on research proposals and project goals, and to meet with the various zoo departments and affiliates we will be working with.   (to   read   about   our   collaboration: www.elephantswithoutborders.org/partners )

Mike flew into New York City and was met by the zoo’s PR team. The few days they spent together in the city were planned tightly. The schedule was arranged by the acclaimed global public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, and included meetings with the news media, magazines, radio shows, and travel companies…  The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Travel 8c Leisure, Departures magazine, Family Circle, Redbook magazine, WABC radio, The Travel Show,
Concierge.corn, and the Family Travel Forum (just to name a few!)
Despite, the hectic schedule and not being used to the cold of NY’s winter, Mike managed to find a little time to indulge and enjoy a few things that New York City has to offer… caramel cappuccino and bagels in the mornings, taking walks while window shopping, and the array of wonderful restaurant choices. But the highlights were a brief visit to the museum of Natural History and a stop at the Memorial at Ground Zero. This was particularly touching for him… (on Mike’s very first visit to the United States, on Sep. 11, he had just arrived that morning and was in the JFK airport, waiting for his luggage, when the tragedy occurred. Amongst the chaos, he was stranded, dazed and confused in disbelief!)

Next stop… Washington DC! The team traveled at night by train to arrive in DC quite late, Mike said he was particularly impressed with Union Station and how beautiful the buildings in the city were lit up at night. Again, the itinerary was tightly scheduled and this time included meetings with the Associations of Zoos & Aquariums, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Geographic and Smithsonian Magazine. Mike and the team also met with representatives for California’s Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Congresswoman Susan Davis. He said he really enjoyed his visit on Capitol Hill, but the highlight he enjoyed most was waving to President Barack Obama, as the President drove by in his motorcade.

The visit to DC was brief and from there, Mike was off on his first visit to the beautiful city of sunny San Diego. Unfortunately, upon his arrival, it was raining and continued for most of the week, However, the city is quite beautiful and the zoo is very impressive.
Mike didn’t have much time for exploring and his time was spent meeting the various department people at the zoo and the San Diego Zoo Conservation Research team, including more public relation people, the elephant keepers, researchers, the elephants and, especially his advisory committee who are involved with our research collaboration with the zoo. Mike and Fred (to read about the people we  work with, click; www.elephantswithoutborders.org/colleagues)   spent   mornings, days into the night, preparing paperwork for this year’s season of field work. The research team at the zoo have been recording and trying to analyze elephant vocalizations. To better understand and interpret elephant acoustics, one of the zoo’s conservation research scientists is developing a new acoustical recording device for us, at EWB, to fit on our satellite collars and deploy them on the wild elephant population in southern Africa. We are very excited about this prospect, as it will be the first acoustic study of its kind. Dates and areas to deploy collars were discussed, in addition to other upcoming field activities. Alas, it was time for Mike to return home…

“It was really great to be back in the country I think of as a second home, the USA. And although I was there for a few weeks, considering the hectic schedule, all the meetings and new acquaintances made, the trip flew by rather quickly. In the end, I was eager and relieved to return to familiar surroundings, the tranquility of my homeland of Botswana. However, I thought the trip was really rewarding and I am looking forward to working with the dedicated people at the zoo, who are so passionate about conservation, wildlife and elephants. ” -Mike

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