JOHNSON CITY (September 16, 2013) — Visitors can learn everything they ever wanted to know about red pandas at the fourth annual International Red Panda Day being held at East Tennessee State University and General Shale Natural History Museum and Visitors Center at the Gray Fossil Site on September 21. The museum is teaming up with the Red Panda Network to raise awareness of the endangered modern red panda, native to Asia, and to educate the public about red pandas found on site.
“Here at the Gray Fossil Site, we love teaching visitors about the red panda,” said Dr. Blaine Schubert, paleontologist and director of the Museum. “The red panda is particularly special to us because our site is producing the most complete red panda fossils in the world. Our panda actually represents a species known only from Gray, and its closest living relative lives in Asia.”
At 1 p.m., paleontologist and red panda expert Dr. Steven Wallace will give a free talk, “Red Pandas of the Past and Present,” about the importance of the Gray Fossil Site’s Appalachian Red Panda and how it compares to the modern species.
At 3 p.m., Sarah Glass, curator of Red Pandas/Program Animals/Special Exhibits at the Knoxville Zoo, will give a free lecture about red panda conservation efforts.
Any time from 11 a.m.-4 p.m., children are invited to “climb” the highest mountains of the Himalayas, learn about the elusive red panda, participate in engaging activities and earn the title of Red Panda Ranger. Each educational activity teaches about the uniqueness of the endangered red panda.
The ETSU Natural History Museum and Gray Fossil Site continually showcases the 5-million-year-old Gray Fossil Site and its unique ecosystem. Visitors are invited to observe live excavations from May through October, weather permitting. There are also many special events held at the museum, such as a monthly lecture series, Fossil and Artifact ID Nights every other month, and many ongoing youth programs.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m.–5 p.m. and is located 1.8 miles off Exit 13 on Interstate 26.
For more information, call (866) 202-6223 or visit the museum at www.etsu.edu/naturalhistorymuseum .