Emerging Explorer and zoologist Lucy Cooke is on a one-woman crusade to champion ugly and unloved creatures so vital to Earth's biodiversity.

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  • This video was filmed on Wednesday, June 13th at the 2012 National Geographic Explorers Symposium at National Geographic Society headquarters in Washington, D.C.

    Quick! Which species pulls at your heartstrings—a tiger cub or an algae-covered sloth? A panda or a toad? When it comes to emotional attachment, global popularity, and conservation support, the fluffier your fur and the bigger your eyes, the better your chances—unless zoologist Lucy Cooke has a vote. She's on a one-woman crusade to show the world why some of the most unlovable animals are actually the most interesting and deserving of our attention, study, and protection.


    • Making ugly and unloved animals popular (start-02:40 min.)
    • Cooke's career and desire to tell the story of uncharismatic animals (02:41-04:52 min.)
    • Using the digital revolution to broadcast the real-time adventures of the Amphibian Avenger (04:53-07:55 min.)
    • The next adventure: sloths (07:56-08:48 min.)
    • Video: Meet the residents of the Aviarios sloth orphanage (08:49-09:55 min.)
    • Founding the Sloth Appreciation Society (09:56-12:13 min.)
    • Sharing the love: fighting to save small animals as well as big animals (12:14-13:24 min.)
    • Freaks and Creeps: a National Geographic Television mini-series (13:25-14:21 min.)
    • Reaching an audience who cares (14:22-14:53 min.)

    Strategies for Using Video in a Variety of Learning Environments

    • Have students preview several of the videos and choose the one they find most inspiring. Have students describe in writing a conversation they might have with the speaker(s).
    • Freeze the video on a relevant image. Have students observe details in the still image and jot down predictions of what the full video might address. Discuss students’ ideas before and after watching the video.
    • Pose an open-ended question before students watch the video, and have them discuss their ideas before and after in small groups.
    • Have students determine what they think the key message of this video is. Was the speaker effective in getting his or her message across?
    • Show a short clip to engage students during class, and then have students watch the full video at home and write a paragraph responding to the content or a question you give them.
    • Have students note statements that represent facts or opinions, including where it’s difficult to tell the difference. What further research might help distinguish facts and opinions? How might the speaker’s viewpoint compare with others’ viewpoints about a topic?
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    amphibian Noun

    an animal able to live both on land and in water.

    animal Noun

    organisms that have a well-defined shape and limited growth, can move voluntarily, acquire food and digest it internally, and can respond rapidly to stimuli.

    biodiversity Noun

    all the different kinds of living organisms within a given area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: biodiversity
    blog Noun

    (web log) website that contains online personal reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer.

    digital media Noun

    electronic methods of communication.

    Emerging Explorer Noun

    an adventurer, scientist, innovator, or storyteller recognized by National Geographic for their visionary work while still early in their careers.

    frog Noun

    animal (amphibian) with smooth skin and long hind legs for jumping.

    sloth Noun

    large, tree-dwelling mammal native to South America.

    social media Plural Noun

    online means of communication used by people to develop social and professional contacts.

    zoologist Noun

    person who studies animals.

    zoology Noun

    the study of animals.