With a goal to educate audiences about the plight of primates around the world —and its far reaching implications in the areas of economics, science and medicine — College of the Canyons anthropology professor and primate researcher Sarah Etheridge will present the fall 2012 Scholarly Presentation “Nothing to Smile About: The Vanishing Primates” on Nov. 7, at the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC).
Beginning with a basic introduction into the world of primates, the presentation will examine primates’ biological importance to society, along with multitude of issues currently threatening the world’s primate population, including deforestation, the consumption of bush meat and the illegal pet and entertainment trade.
“Many people probably don’t know exactly what a primate is,” said Etheridge. “And unless they happen to take an anthropology class here at COC, or attend this event, most will never have the chance to learn about some of these issues, which is the biggest barrier to addressing such problems.”
The second half of the presentation will focus on Etheridge’s own research and personal experience studying primates, both in captivity and in their natural environments, combined with a discussion about the importance of primates to the human population.
“My work is very economics based, with many applications to the fields of international business, sociology, psychology and medicine,” said Etheridge. “Whether you realize it or not, primates are important to everybody, and we need to be invested in making sure they don’t go extinct. Unfortunately, humans and primates have never had a very symbiotic relationship.”
Also, included in this section of the program will be a multi-media presentation depicting the many ways in which primates are exploited, harmed and even killed through a number of illegal, but seemingly commonplace practices, taking place throughout the world.
“Some of the images will be graphic,” said Etheridge. “But the reality is that these threats to primates are out there — it’s just that most of us are too disconnected from the issues to be able to do anything about them.”
Etheridge will close by sharing a message of hope with audience, along with tips and information about what consumers can do to help quell the many threats facing primates today.
Etheridge holds a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology and Political Science from Texas A&M University and a Master of Arts in Anthropology from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). She is currently working toward completion of her Ph.D. in Public Heath – Epidemiology.
In addition to teaching a variety of anthropology courses at COC, Etheridge has been a driving force behind the college’s move to adopt a more well-rounded and conservation minded anthropology curriculum.
“College of the Canyons has been tremendous in supporting me to help make some of the issues I’ll be discussing, more of a focal point in the curriculum,” said Etheridge.
Etheridge’s professional experience also includes time spent researching wild chimpanzees in Africa; working with chimpanzees who know sign language at the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute at Central Washington University; helping to develop ecotourism and enrichment activities for orphaned orangutans in Borneo, Indonesia; and service as the Santa Ana Zoo’s primate enrichment coordinator.
The research Etheridge performed on wild chimpanzees in Africa served as the basis for her book “Bushmeat in Uganda and Cameroon: An Analysis of Human Development Levels to Aid Chimpanzee Conservation.” She has also been published in the International Journal of Arts and Sciences.
When not teaching, performing research or working with primates, Etheridge also serves as the West Hollywood coordinator for rescued pet adoptions through Best Friends Animal Society.
The College of the Canyons Scholarly Presentation “Nothing to Smile About: The Vanishing Primates” will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, on the main stage of the Santa Clarita Performing Arts Center (PAC).
Admission to this event is free and open to the public. Seating will begin 30 minutes prior to the program’s start time, and is available on a first come, first served basis. Attendees can park for free in college lots 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8, located off Rockwell Canyon Road adjacent to the PAC.
For more information about the College of the Canyons Scholarly Presentation “Nothing to Smile About: The Vanishing Primates,” contact the COC Foundation at 661-362-3434.