Children love going to zoos and aquariums (Z/As) as great places to see animals they would not see in their daily lives. As children (and their parents/caregivers) explore, they are learning about the animals and their habitats, especially when they read the signage and listen to educator talks.
Learning about animals, their habitats and conservation issues is a first step in caring about the environment. Z/As donate millions of dollars a year to support conservation issues around the world. When you purchase a ticket and buy products in their gift shops, you are contributing to those causes too.
Many Z/As even participate in breeding programs. The American Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) even has programs (Species Survival Plans) to help zoos find endangered-animal breeding partners and locations for the resulting babies. In some cases, these babies may even be released back into the wild! The National and Phoenix Zoos raised and released black-footed ferrets. San Diego and Oregon Zoos participate in raising and releasing California Condors. Hogle Zoo breads and releases Boreal Toads. Potter Park Zoo releases Puerto Rican Crested Toads back into the wild. The Phoenix Zoo participated in “Operation Oryx” to release Arabian Oryx into the wild. The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is one of several zoos and aquariums participating in raising Orinoco crocodile hatchings to be released into the wilds. Other animals that have been successfully raised and introduced into the wild include red wolves, pygmy rabbits, butterflies, Western pond turtles, fishers, and wolverines.
Support your local zoo and aquarium this month! And, make sure to read lots of books featuring animals you might find there.
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