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May 2013
Contents / home
Disease research in cheetahs
Top awards for NZG research
Ragged-tooth shark released
Holiday fun at the zoo
Knysna seahorse pampering
Emma the lioness
11th ICEE comes to Africa
Exhibit draws large crowds
Scifest Africa 2013
A kiss from a seal
Farm programme fascinates
Rhino poaching update
Conservation Grapevine

Scifest Africa 2013 - Science on the move

  The NZG's Levy Tau interacts with the learners.
  Learners absorbed in studying a range of samples under a microscope.
  Learners look at the tortoise eggs on display.
This year marked Scifest Africa's 17th year of celebrating science. This popular annual science festival was held in Grahamstown on 13-19 March 2013, and was attended by more than 66 000 visitors.

The 2013 festival theme was "Science on the move". The Minister of Science and Technology, Derek Hanekom, delivered the opening address on 15 March and declared the festival officially open.

Research, conservation and education

This year the National Zoo's exhibition focused on three different areas - research, conservation and education. The research focus area showed delegates how DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) can be extracted from powdered split green peas by using a combination of water, alcohol (ethanol), dishwashing liquid, salt and a meat tenderiser.

In the second research activity, delegates were able to view a selection of different slides under a microscope. The slides contained samples like plant cells from an onion, the blood smear of a frog, the common cockroach and ants. Viewers had the opportunity to adjust the microscope as they wished and to choose the samples they were keen to view. The last item on display in the research category was a baby chimpanzee that has been preserved in a jar with formalin for more than 50 years.

The conservation focus area included talks on rhino and owl conservation. For these talks, the NZG team had a fake rhino horn and a stuffed barn owl on display.

The education sub-category included teaching the public about snakes and a Tarantula. The NZG team covered the 12 most venomous snakes and how people should react when they find themselves in front of a snake. There was a live Tarantula on display and the public was taught about different spiders and how to handle them.

Special lectures on DNA and biodiversity were also given to learners in grades 10-12.

Scifest Africa 2013 once again afforded the NZG a special opportunity to teach South Africans about biodiversity as well as the research that is being undertaken at the zoo.

By Belinda Mokhanda, NZG Intern

Zoo and Aquarium Visitor