Do you have big dreams of changing the world? Our guest knows a thing or two about what it takes to make change happen. Gabby Wild is a passionate eco-champion who travels the world helping animals in need. In this episode of the Growin' Up podcast for kids, our host Emily Calandrelli asks Gabby how she gets her voice heard, what kids can do now to get involved in activism, and how they can nurture that passion into a career as they grow up.
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Speaker 2: When I grow up, I want to be an activist.
Speaker 3: What does being an activist mean to you?
Speaker 4: Standing up for what's right.
Speaker 2: Making a difference?
Speaker 3: Are you ready to make activism your superpower?
Speaker 3: The last episode, we met Alex Deines, who invented an amazing gadget to help people who are blind. Today we're going to find out how one eco champion gets her voice heard. Activists are real superheroes. They often do whatever it takes to make big changes and help humans run the world. Sometimes it's a matter of life or death. Do you want to fight for something you believe in? If you've dreamed of being an activist, you won't want to miss this episode. Today we're meeting an incredible woman who claims even Mother Nature has a doctor. She's invited us to a unique event to help endangered species.
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Speaker 3: Let's take a seat. The lights are dimming and the show's about to begin.
Speaker 2: Will we see endangered species?
Speaker 3: You'll soon find out.
Speaker 5: Welcome to the annual Wild by Nature Fashion Show. Today you'll see some of the wildest forms of fashion. Each designer has selected a theme and is donating to the Gabby Wild Foundation to save endangered species.
Speaker 2: Here comes the models.
Speaker 3: Wow, their dresses look like exotic birds and butterflies.
Speaker 5: The first designs represent the rainforests of Indonesia. Imagine these gorgeous creatures fluttering about the trees.
Speaker 3: Wow, the models have wild orange and brown hairdos.
Speaker 5: Orangutans spend most of their lives in the treetops. They build nests in the trees for sleeping. Unlike our models who have amazingly long legs, orangutans have very long arms. When standing, their arms almost brush the ground. Logging and farming have destroyed the rainforest. Sumatran orangutans are on the critically endangered list. No trees, no orangutans. With the help of this designer, the Gabby Wild Foundation is planting trees to save orangutans and other species.
Speaker 2: I'd never seen such beautiful clothes.
Speaker 3: Me neither. They're made from natural fibers and dyes from the rainforest. I can't wait to see what's next.
Speaker 5: These models show just how [unintelligible 00:02:53] uniform can be. These designs are similar to those worn by eco guards, people who patrol areas that protect endangered African elephants and rhinos.
Speaker 3: Camouflage is always in style. How awesome is it that this designer helps prevent elephants and rhinos from being killed?
Speaker 4: Why would someone kill an elephant or rhino?
Speaker 3: For centuries, elephant tusks and rhino horns have been used in many Asian countries as traditional medicine. They're also considered trophies. Tusks from a single elephant can be worth over $100,000.
Speaker 2: Oh, no, I want to stop that.
Speaker 3: Well, you can become an activist.
Speaker 2: I'm just a kid.
Speaker 3: When there's a will there's a way. Have you heard of the Australian kid Jack Berne?
Speaker 2: No.
Speaker 3: When Australian farmers suffered from a massive drought back in 2018, he created a campaign, A Fiver for a Farmer. He spoke at schools and collected $5 from people in his community and beyond. He raised $1.5 million and at that time, Jack was only 11.
Speaker 2: No kidding.
Speaker 4: Hey, a new group is coming out.
Speaker 5: These coats are eco-friendly and so cozy without hurting any animals.
Speaker 2: That coat looks like fox fur but it isn't. Right?
Speaker 3: That's right. This designer has outfoxed the fur industry. Hey, how does the fox know it's going to rain?
Speaker 4: I don't know.
Speaker 3: It checks the weather furcast.
Speaker 2: This fashion show is a cool way to raise money to help the animals.
Speaker 3: It sure is. For the finale, here comes the woman who organized it all. Her name is Gabby Wild.
Speaker 2: She looks like a model.
Speaker 3: She is but that's not her main job. She's a veterinarian. Just like Dr. Michael Lazarus, the vet met who helped that sick pig when we visited the farm.
Speaker 2: Oh, yes.
Speaker 3: They both have a passion for animal welfare. Gabby's nonprofit, the Gabby Wild Foundation, cares for wild animals.
Speaker 3: Gabby medically treats animals all over the world for free, and she uses fashion as a way to educate the public about endangered species and get people to donate money to her cause.
Speaker 2: There she is with all of the models taking a bow. Woo-hoo.
Speaker 4: She's like a superhero.
Speaker 3: She's walking off stage. Let's see if we can grab her for an interview. Are you ready to meet a real activist?
Speaker 3: Hi there, Gabby. I'm here with Lingokids and we want to find out what it takes to be an activist. Can we ask some questions?
Speaker 3: Great. What are three things you think all activists need?
Gabby: Perseverance. The second thing that you need is hope. Without hope, there's nothing. You'll lose your resolve, you'll stop moving forward, and if you stop being hopeful, you're going to stop your mission, and then you'll lose your perseverance. Then the third thing that you need is passion.
Speaker 3: Cool. Maybe you can give us some tips at the end on how our listeners can start learning these. We also received some excellent questions from our Lingokids listeners.
Speaker 4: Were you a vet before you became an activist?
Gabby: You know what, it's funny you asked that question. I actually worked with elephants starting when I was 16, so it occurred at the same time because I got my degree as an actual veterinarian after I started my foundation. You might say it was simultaneous, but I started first with my work as a veterinarian before I was officially a doctor. Kind of at the same time.
Speaker 2: What's your favorite way to help save animals?
Gabby: My favorite way to help save animals is actually working with them as a wildlife veterinarian. My job is I go around the world saving endangered wildlife, and my interactions, if you will, face-to-face, with wildlife is my favorite way of protecting them.
Speaker 4: There are so many things you can do to help. How do you decide what to do?
Gabby: You have to decide what aspect of that do you want to tackle. Learn the issues. It's not take it all at once [unintelligible 00:07:51] then you're going to do it all. That'll make you so frustrated. You have to start in one place, learn about that issue, tackle it, then move on to the next. That is how I started the foundation, by tackling one issue at a time.
Speaker 2: One issue at a time. What if I don't know what kind of activist I want to be?
Gabby: There are different types of activism. You can care about health, children's education, so many things, but let's talk environment. The first thing is read and learn and watch YouTube videos and listen to Lingokids. Find out what's going on. Who's playing these important roles in changing environment? What is going on? What does it mean by global warming? Why are we having issues conserving water? Why do we have issues with having enough food to feed all these people in the world and planning to feed them? Not to scam anybody. Find out what does that mean. Read about it.
Speaker 4: Gabby, how do you know you're making a difference?
Gabby: [laughs] I have no idea if I'm actually making a difference. Some days I say to myself, "Why am I doing this? I feel so frustrated. Animals are still endangered or critically endangered, some are on the verge of extinction. What am I doing?" Then I'll get a message on Instagram or an email from a child from far off in the world. I'm based in New York and I'll get this message saying, "I am so inspired. I made these changes and I want to do this," and I'm like, "Wow. Okay, it's all worth it just for that one child." Then I'll get patients that suddenly the hawk's wings that I was able to fix, that hawk can go fly again and can go make babies and make the world a better place by being in it.
Then I say, "Okay, that's awesome."
Speaker 2: Gabby, what was your favorite moment as an activist?
Gabby: I have lots of favorites, but I think the one that is the most inspiring to me is the baby elephant that essentially became my little adopted baby. His name was Kunchai and I actually created the foundation after he passed away. Right before I was accepted to veterinary school, I was working again in Thailand. One of my big assignments was to take care of this baby who unfortunately was kidnapped.
Speaker 4: Oh, no.
Gabby: Yes. I started helping this baby. He needed to get strong and he needed to recuperate and he became my baby. He would follow me everywhere. We actually had to create a pen for him because he was bothering all the other elephants in the hospital. Because you can imagine a very large dog, very, very large dog following me around everywhere was the sweetest thing. I eventually did have to go back to, I was at Cornell for undergraduate and I did have to go back to Cornell for school. No one wanted to tell me, but once I left he became very depressed, and eventually, he stopped eating and we weren't going to the rest of what happened to him.
My moments with him were some of the best moments of my life and because of him, I was able to get more awareness as to how fragile our planet was.
Speaker 3: I'm sorry that our question brought these emotions back.
Gabby: It's okay. I think it's important for kids to know that even though we're adults and we are leaders, half of the reason why we are leaders is because we care. Because we have a heart. If you don't have a heart for what you do, you shouldn't do it.
Speaker 4: Thank you. Gabby, can I ask another question?
Speaker 4: What do you like best about being an activist?
Gabby: I like speaking to you guys. I like being able to teach and make people excited and change the world for the better. That is why I'm an activist. Not because I like to hear myself, I actually don't like the sound of my voice. I love when I get people sending me messages that they feel inspired and empowered and they learn. The purpose of life is to keep learning.
Speaker 3: Wow, I hear you have a book that explains how animals communicate and you wrote it with National Geographic kids. Can you tell us about it?
Gabby: Yes, absolutely. We just released a book called How to Speak Animal, which goes into talking about the different ways in which wild animals communicate and it's really, really adorable and really fun. If you want to learn about How to Speak Animal, that's the newest one you could go check out.
Speaker 3: Thanks for sharing with us.
Speaker 3: What can kids do now while they're so growing up to become an activist?
Gabby: Learn, learn, learn. Read, read, read. That's the first way. Once you've read and you've picked things that are really important to you. Let's say you love figuring out how to fix the plastic problem as they say, which is a very big issue. It's not just one small little piece. It's a whole puzzle to this piece. Pick out which puzzle piece you want to fix in it and then start fixing it. Maybe if you are trying to, "fix the prep plastic problem," your issue is going to be about employing more recycling in your neighborhood or in your school, or in your community and you're going to do a recycling campaign. How are we going to do that campaign?
Figure out what your issue is that you want to fix and then decide along with your friends and your family how you want to fix it.
Speaker 3: Fantastic. You are such an inspiration.
Speaker 2: Yes. Let's make t-shirts with our favorite endangered species on them and wear them.
Speaker 4: And wear them for a whole month.
Speaker 3: I'm in. I would like to wash mine at least once a week.
Speaker 3: We hope you've enjoyed this episode of the Growing Up Podcast. Even if you never plan on being an activist, it's great to stand up for what you feel is right. Is there a cause you're passionate about? Tune in next time when we meet a real photographer.
Speaker 4: To live a full interactive learning adventure, check out our Lingo Kids app with tons of games and activities for endless fun.
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Because it's so fun to learn what you can be.
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[00:15:04] [END OF AUDIO]