Workshop organised by Susan Clayton, social psychologist, and 2021-2022 Paris IAS Fellow.
Zoos provide people with the opportunity not only to experience nature but to learn about it. This includes learning about environmental threats, in the hopes that visitors will develop interest and understanding about the need to protect biodiversity. From the website of the Association Francaise des Parcs Zoologiques: “Zoological parks are establishments that raise awareness and involve visitors of all ages in the implementation of a more sustainable society for ecosystems and therefore for us and species.” Such education can and does take advantage of the emotional side of the zoo experience – the connection to nature that visitors report in response to viewing the animals.
Climate change is currently one of the biggest threats we face, something that endangers humans as well as nonhuman animals and ecosystems. Many people are reporting anxiety in response to their awareness of climate change. How should zoos incorporate climate change into their educational mission, without increasing anxiety? Can zoos help to encourage resilience by promoting positive experiences with nature?
This workshop will discuss these and related questions in order for those who are working in this area to share information about current initiatives, consider potential barriers, and suggest some directions for the future. We hope to advance the ability for zoos to fulfill their potential in addressing this societal challenge.
Image: Courtesy of the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum