I am having trouble constructing an answer to “How can Zoos and Aquariums Foster Cultures of Care and Compassion?” because in my mind everything we do in zoos and aquariums is geared toward conservation and caring. Caring about animals, the environment, the future generations ability to live, the current generation’s attitudes and behavior toward all of the above. It is why we are.
The stated purpose of an AZA-accredited zoo, and all zoos that shoot for quality programming is Conservation, Education, Research, and Recreation. Everything from the parking lot to the graphics to the exhibits themselves must take those four goals into consideration in that order.
The moment I walk into work, every move I make takes conservation into consideration. I am in the education department and the overriding question in my mind for each project is “How can I get the average visitor to care about this particular topic in a way that results in a behavior change?” Through graphics, close-up encounters, presentations, workshops, publications, web content, outreach opportunities, field trips, and even birthday parties, we strive to cause people to care. The entire visitor experience is geared to conservation.
Conservation and caring is what we do every day, in everything. The question isn’t “how can we do it” it is “how can we do it better, more effectively, and more efficiently.”