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Aquariums and Zoos Encourage Children's Interest in Sealife Conservation

By Leonard Ho - Posted Feb 16, 2012 07:00 AM
A recent Harris Poll found 94 percent of people agree that zoological parks and aquariums offer valuable information about the importance of oceans, bodies of water and the animals that live there. So what are some important lessons we can take away from this poll?
Aquariums and Zoos Encourage Children's Interest in Sealife Conservation

Children marvel the live coral reef exhibit at Steinhart Aquarium. Photo by Shubert Ciencia

First-hand contact is the best way to foster a child's interest.  Seeing wildlife in person is a much more engaging experience than reading about it in a book or website - an experience that can impact a lifetime.  Animals from halfway around the world suddenly become tangible and real, no longer abstract "mythical" creatures.

Here are three simple steps aquarists can help the current and future generations to gain a greater appreciation of marine life:

  • Take your friends and family to marine parks, public aquariums, and zoos.
  • Support your local public aquarium or zoological park.
  • Make your home aquarium a teachable moment for everyone who sees it. Help them to appreciate reef life. This means no boring factoids!  This also means making your hobby an enjoyable experience for your family. Forcing your kid to clean skimmate is not enjoyable.

 

Here is The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums' press release with more poll results.


ALEXANDRIA, Va., Feb 09, 2012  -- Children have a natural curiosity about dolphins, whales and other marine mammals. The best way for parents to encourage this interest -- and to inspire a lifelong passion for wildlife conservation -- is to log kids off the computer and visit an accredited marine park, aquarium or zoo, where learning best happens.

That's according to a new national public opinion poll that says the public strongly believes seeing and experiencing live animals is the best way for children to learn about marine mammals. Released today by the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums, the survey of more than 1,000 adults found that 97 percent of people agree that marine life parks, aquariums and zoos are important because they educate children about marine mammals -- animals that children might not have the opportunity to see in the wild.

Ninety-four percent of those polled agree that children are more likely to be concerned about animals if they learn about them at marine life parks, aquariums and zoos, and that visiting these facilities can inspire conservation action that can help marine mammals and their ocean environments.

The poll, conducted by Harris Interactive(R), also found that 94 percent of people agree that zoological parks and aquariums offer valuable information about the importance of oceans, bodies of water and the animals that live there.

"Children, especially, care more about what they know and understand, and these parks provide important interactions that are a critical first step in promoting kids to take action to help animals and their habitats," said Marilee Menard, executive director of the Alliance.

Additionally, the poll found that 89 percent agree that children learn more about marine mammals at an aquarium or zoo than in a school classroom, and 88 percent agree that you can learn about animals at marine parks in a way that can't be replicated by watching film or TV programs. Some 91 percent agree that seeing a marine mammal at these facilities fosters a connection to the animal.

"When children -- and adults -- see and experience the excitement of being close to marine mammals such as whales, dolphins, and sea lions, it resonates in ways that even the most vividly illustrated book or video cannot. It is an emotionally enriching experience that fosters a sense of caring for these animals and their ocean environments," said Menard, whose Alliance membership represents 48 accredited facilities that account for the greatest body of experience and knowledge about marine mammal care and husbandry in the world.

Other findings from the new public attitude survey include:

-- 40 percent of Americans (about 125 million people) have visited a marine park, aquarium or zoo in the last 12 months, including 56 percent of households with children (about 20 million households).

-- 94 percent believe the people who care for the animals at marine life parks, aquariums and zoos are committed to the welfare of the animals.

-- 97 percent (ages 18-24) would be interested in swimming with dolphins.

-- 93 percent believe that many of the successes to save endangered or declining species are at least in part a result of work done in marine life parks, aquariums and zoos.

-- 90 percent agree that species in the wild benefit when their biology and physiology is studied in marine life parks, aquariums and zoos.

-- 90 percent believe that interacting with dolphins in a marine life park, aquarium or zoo offers people a deeper understanding and appreciation of this mammal.

"We pride ourselves on providing an educational and enjoyable experience for families," Menard said. "Professionals at Alliance member institutions work every day to inspire guests of all ages to share their commitment to marine mammals, the need to protect them in the wild and to conserve ocean habitats."

Methodology

Harris Interactive(R) conducted the study online on behalf of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums between Aug. 29 and Sept. 6, 2011 among a nationally representative quantitative survey of 1,011 U.S. adults ages 18 and over. The data were weighted where necessary to be representative of the total U.S. adult population on the basis of age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income. The propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums is an international association of marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research facilities, and professional organizations dedicated to the highest standards of care for marine mammals and to their conservation in the wild through public education, scientific study, and wildlife presentations.

Author: Leonard Ho
Location: Southern California

I'm a passionate aquarist of over 30 years, a coral reef lover, and the blog editor for Advanced Aquarist. While aquarium gadgets interest me, it's really livestock (especially fish), artistry of aquariums, and "method behind the madness" processes that captivate my attention.

Website: http://www.advancedaquarist.com.

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