by Rex Ettlin
Education Program Coordinator
First I have to tip my hat in apology to aquariums, wildlife parks and educational farms. Since I work in a zoo that’s what I can talk about. But the idea of a zoo as an effective educational tool applies equally well to all non-formal educational settings, such as art museums, science museums, nature parks or natural areas. Teachers who have access to any of these should definitely include them in their toolbox.
A zoo’s paramount purpose is to promote wildlife conservation. A zoo exists to educate. Research happens, recreation happens, but above all is the intent to educate. The educational potential is at its greatest with a professional educator designing a learning activity to use at the zoo. The zoo is a great tool and it’s at its best when a real artisan is using it, a classroom teacher who has designed focused activities connected to a long-term curriculum.