Last Saturday I tagged along with a group of students from our Nature Photography class for a special tour of the Knoxville Zoo.

Instructor Kendall Chiles arranged the tour with Betty Wasserman, who works in the zoo’s education department and is an accomplished photographer in her own right.

Kendall and Betty provided numerous expert and practical photography tips as we spent time with some of the zoo’s most photogenic subjects.

I particularly enjoyed the behind-the-scenes look at a few of the feathered stars of the Bird Show in the Knoxville News Sentinel Amphitheater.

A female African parrot named Einstein, in particular, captured my attention—and everyone else’s.

Einstein, who can speak about 80 words on cue, has made appearances on the “CBS Early Show” and on the sets of late-night talk show hosts David Letterman and Jay Leno.

“Einstein’s a diva, and she knows it,” said one of her handlers.

We also visited and snapped photos of zoo buddies ranging in age from 1 year (of a precocious chimpanzee named George, who turns 2 in July) to 120 years (of an Aldabra tortoise named Big Al).

Several of the courses in the UT Photography Certificate Program offer field trips as part of the coursework.

Kendall Chiles, who is current president of the Southern Appalachian Nature Photographers, teaches Nature Photography twice annually.

Darrin Devault, UT Professional & Personal Development

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