By: Shaina Matveev  | 

Animals and Activism: A Spotlight on the Zoology Club

For students interested in zoology and conservation, there has never been a space on campus to explore those interests — until this past semester. While Yeshiva University has long had exceptional courses and clubs focused on the life sciences, these opportunities have always been geared towards the study of the human body, with opportunities for those interested in the study of animals being scarce. Seeking to fill this void, Yitzchak Tollinsky (YC, ‘24) founded the Zoology Club, a club entirely focused on the study of the animal world and its conservation, and in the mere three months since its founding, the club has already gained over 100 members, an impressive feat. From providing its members with informative lectures by exceptional speakers to giving them opportunities to go on exciting, educational trips to offering them a space to share and discuss their interests with fellow, like-minded students, the Zoology Club has done far more than simply fill a void. 

At the start of the Spring 2021 semester, on March 17, the Zoology Club held its first event, the Zoology Club Meet and Greet. Joined by Zvi Teitelbaum, a lab professor at Yeshiva University whose specialty is zoology, members of the club had the opportunity to better get to know one another, while learning more about the role of the Zoology Club on campus. One club member who attended this event, described it as being “something different and exciting” and was “very much looking forward to what this club has planned for the future.” From the start, the Zoology Club drew in its members through exciting events.

Following the Zoology Club’s Meet and Greet event, the club hosted Dr. Jeremy Goodman, director of the Roger Williams Park Zoo and former director of the Turtleback Zoo, on April 21, to discuss how students can make a real difference in helping save our planet. From topics such as how to advocate for our environment, to how to make eco-friendly consumer choices, to even explaining the benefits of growing pollinator gardens, Dr. Goodman provided students with realistic, practical ways to make significant differences in helping save our environment from its current state of steady destruction. 

At the Zoology Club’s most recent event, held on Sunday, April 25, the members of the club were brought on a guided tour of the Bronx Zoo with Zvi Teitelbaum, who had previously volunteered at the zoo, to learn about the many endangered species kept here. Starting at the exhibit of the rare Komodo Dragon, the group of 35 students who joined the Zoology Club on this trip made their way through the zoo, having the opportunity to see the many endemic species of Madagascar, as well as the Malayan Tigers, the Père David's Deer, the African Lions and many more endangered, vulnerable and extinct-in-the-wild species. On this outing, students not only learned about these endangered species but also witnessed these incredible animals firsthand.

The Zoology Club has also expanded its reach far beyond the members of the club, increasing environmental awareness across the Yeshiva University student body at large. Starting in early March, the club posted dozens of posters around campus on trash cans, persuading students to recycle plastic bottles instead of tossing them in the trash. In addition to increasing recycling on campus, the 13 members of the Zoology Club’s board have many more impressive and creative plans for upcoming ways to even further impact the student body, including plans to distribute reusable bags and the prospect of creating campus pollinator gardens. Tollinsky explained to The Commentator that through these efforts he hopes to “bring a feeling of respect for the animal world and conservation into the forefront of the Yeshiva University conversation.”

The Zoology Club was founded with a mission to provide students with a space in which they can delve into their interests in zoology and conservation and broaden their knowledge on these subjects. From the informative Meet and Greet event, to the empowering lecture by Dr. Jeremy Goodman, to the educational Bronx Zoo trip, as well as to the club’s active WhatsApp group chat with daily posts and ambitious efforts to spread environmental awareness around campus, the club has gone above and beyond in fulfilling its mission. In just one semester, the Zoology Club has already made a tremendous impact on campus; we can most certainly look forward to many more semesters like this one to come.

Shaina Matveev is a member of the Zoology Club’s board.


Photo Caption: Members of the Zoology Club were treated to a tour of the Bronx Zoo. 

Photo Credit: Baila Landa