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The conservation of the eastern hellbender aquatic salamander and the changing role of zoos will be discussed at this week’s Science Forum.

Phil Colclough, director of animal collections and conservation at Knoxville Zoological Gardens, will present “Eastern Hellbender Conservation and the New Role of Zoos” on Friday, November 15.

The Science Forum is a weekly brown-bag lunch series that allows professors and area scientists to discuss their research with the general public in a conversational presentation.

The presentations begin at noon on Fridays in Room C-D of Thompson-Boling Arena. Attendees can bring lunch or purchase it at the arena. Each presentation is forty minutes long and is followed by a question-and-answer session. Science Forum presentations are free and open to the public.

The roles of modern zoos have evolved to focus on research, education, and conservation. Since they no longer exist purely for entertainment, zoos must continue to evolve to meet society’s demands.

“Zoos have changed dramatically in the past decade from purely entertainment venues to true conservation-focused organizations,” Colclough explains. “Learning to balance the two is an ongoing process for all zoos in the modern era.”

The eastern hellbender is America’s largest aquatic salamander. These creatures remain aquatic throughout their life and remain active year round. The range of the eastern hellbender stretches from southern New York state west to southern Illinois, and south to northeastern Mississippi and northern Alabama and Georgia. This species is listed as endangered in four states.

Colclough says, “Hellbender conservation efforts supported by the Knoxville Zoo are but one example of this new philosophy in the current zoo world.”

The final Science Forum will be held on November 22. Nathan Schmidt, assistant professor of microbiology, will discuss “Infection with the Parasite: Malaria Is Only Half the Problem.”

The Science Forum is sponsored by the UT Office of Research and Quest, an initiative to raise awareness of the research, scholarship, and creative activity happening on campus. For more information, visit the Science Forum website.

C O N T A C T :

Amanda Womac (

Mark Littmann (865-974-8156,

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,