Conservation Education Programming on and off Zoo Grounds
Charged with providing diverse educational and high quality recreational experiences that inspire guests to create a better future for wildlife, the Education Department utilizes a wide variety of opportunities and resources. Each year the Zoo hosts more than 1,000,000 guests, approximately 600,000 of whom engage in an impromptu educational encounter with a staff member or volunteer. Additionally, formal education programs such as camps, overnights and trips provide more than 26,000 hours of formal conservation education.
A conservation message is incorporated into all formal programs and most informal Zoo encounters. The Zoo divides conservation education messages into the following 3 categories:
Nature Messages - Increase awareness of living things and their environment
Zoo Messages - Increase awareness of role of Zoos
YOU Messages - Stress impact of humans on the environment and/or empower them to take positive action for the environment
Below are just a few of the Zoo’s programs with a strong emphasis on YOU messages or where guests actually get out into the field.
- Staff-led bus and boat trips taking Zoo members and other interested parties to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge to see endangered whooping cranes in their natural habitat. This program highlights the Zoo's role in whooping crane conservation, importance of habitat and water conservation and how people can make a difference.
- Staff-led camping trips both on site and off site encourage and empower guests to get out and enjoy nature.
- Citizen science initiatives such as Frogwatch where the Zoo & its volunteers contribute nearly 1,000 man hours annually surveying and reporting native frog populations.
- Habitat restoration at Bracken Cave where the Zoo’s staff and teen volunteers not only get to help native wildlife and assist Bat Conservation International in preparing this amazing site for other guests, they also experience first-hand the world’s largest known bat cave.
- In a partnership with the Monterrey Bay Aquarium, the Zoo educates guests, staff and volunteers on how and why to choose sustainable seafood. In addition to trainings, daily interpretive carts throughout the summer and exhibits, approximately 14,000 sustainable seafood pocket guides are distributed annually.
By evaluating existing programming and finding additional ways to deliver conservation education messages, the Zoo constantly strives to serve our mission, and to inspire ourselves and our guests.