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Helping to Save Mongolia’s Heritage
By Robert Stearns 19-Mar-15
In July 2014, stolen fossils of over 20 Mongolian dinosaurs were ceremoniously handed over by the U.S. government to the Mongolian government in New York City. While visiting New York last summer, Ms. Julie Pitzen, ISU teacher and Dino Club facilitator, had no idea she would be asked to help repatriate these important fossils. Ms. Pitzen has facilitated the ISU Dino and Natural History Club since 2012. During the past few years, Ms. Pitzen had been in touch with Mrs. Bolortsetseg Minjin, a Mongolian paleontologist, about the ISU Dino club and developing museum education programs in Mongolia. Bolor had been doing research at the American Museum of Natural History and was called upon by the Mongolian government to organize the return or repatriation of many stolen dinosaur fossils that had been seized by the U.S. government. “We were supposed to meet at the American Museum and look at the dino exhibits for our school’s dino club and talk about public education. When I arrived in NY, she said she was really busy because she got a call that she had to inventory and prepare the shipment of these dino fossils that were being returned. Then she called me back and asked me if I wanted to meet her at the packing facility. She knew I had prior museum and collections management experience, but I never expected to be packing dinosaur fossils! What a treat and honor to be asked to help with the return of Mongolia’s National Heritage. It was an experience I shared with my students, and one that I will never forget.” Just before Christmas, Ms. Pitzen received an envelope in the mail with a special award from the Mongolian government thanking her for assisting in the return of the dinosaur fossils. For more information about the case of the stolen dinosaurs, visit: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/10/world/dinosaur-skeletons-mongolia/
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