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Big cat wrangler inspires middle school students

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Posted at 10:53 PM, Apr 20, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-21 01:08:14-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A man who has captured hundreds of cougars, jaguars, snow leopards and other animals visited Clayton Middle School in Salt Lake City Friday.

Boone Smith, a fourth-generation big cat wrangler, taught the students about big cats and his involvement with wildlife research.

"That's what we want to get out. There's a lot going on in the world with big cats. Quite a few of them are in danger and we can do something about it," Smith said.

Clayton Middle School is one of four schools in the nation that were selected to participate in National Geographic's "Big Cats Sister Schools Program," which pairs U.S. schools with schools in Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana under the shared theme of big cat conservation.

"The students have been able to learn about big cats and feel like they can really take a part in changing how big cats are perceived in the world," said Kate Arch, a Social Studies teacher at Clayton Middle School.

Students said they enjoyed Smith's presentation and would consider seeking a career like Smith's.

"He said he got to go all over the world and I love to travel, so that'd be really cool. And getting to be up close and personal with all the cats would be really interesting," said Emma, an 8th-grader.

Click here for more information on the initiative.