Zoos and aquariums can foster cultures of care and conservation through education, providing obtainable solutions, and creating personal connections. Education is a powerful tool used by zoos and aquariums. If done correctly, guests can learn and grow to understand how their day-to-day activities influence the environment. Daily presentations, encounter programs, and informative signs can teach about the natural world and how we are all connected. Zoos and aquariums can also offer obtainable solutions. So many times when outreach programs try to instill conservation issues into the public, they are leaving the problem and solution so ambiguous, i.e. “save the planet” or “save the ozone” without a clear understanding of how to do so. Stopping using fossil fuels completely isn’t an obtainable solution; however, carpooling to work or using public transportation more often is something that is. Zoos and aquariums can make the connection between the problem and the solution. By giving this solution next to a polar bear or walrus enclosure, guests can make the connection of the consequences of their behavior (melting ice) to the animals affected by them. Lastly, creating personal connections between people and animals empowers people. It is one thing to read about an animal or see them on the television, but when an animal is right in front of you and you get to see them, touch them, or feed them, that creates a moment when you feel more connected and hopefully that connection causes you to care a little more. So that when you go home you remember that experience and think twice when you are throwing out the plastic rings or put the extra effort in to buy the sunscreen that doesn’t harm the reef. Zoos and aquariums have an amazing opportunity and the impact possible is incredible and can definitely foster cultures of care and conservation.
Published on 4 May 2018