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Activity Five

Conservation Advocacy

Now more than ever, it’s critical that aquariums and zoos work with policymakers and the public to advocate for a healthy planet. In this section, we’ll explore the unique role that zoos and aquariums play in advocacy, with a special focus on education.

What is advocacy?

Our education and conservation work is core to who we are. Equally important is building relationships with decision-makers, and empowering them to champion the issues we care about. This is advocacy, and it can take many forms. For example:

  • Taking elected officials on a tour at your organization

  • Organizing a youth program field trip to the state capital

  • Asking a member of Congress to support legislation

  • Thanking a member of Congress on social media for doing something good

Why should zoos and aquariums advocate?

You might be thinking, “advocacy’s not my lane.” Maybe it feels too political, or maybe you don’t think you have the right experience to get involved.

Spoiler: advocacy is your lane!

Whether you’re an educator, a scientist, an animal care professional or marketing specialist, you play an important role in advancing your organization’s mission. You know your program best, you have stories to tell and stories are how we inspire people to care about and act on issues. Advocacy is one way to ensure your stories are being told. If you’re not actively participating in these relationships, then others are making decisions for you.

To be an effective advocate, all you need is the ability to communicate about and be proud of what you do.

The public expects us to advocate

Survey data comparing public perceptions of zoos and aquariums against government agencies non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) shows that the public trusts zoos and aquariums more. They see zoos and aquariums as the least likely to have a “political agenda.” And more than 75% agreed that zoos and aquariums are highly credible sources of information, and that zoos and aquariums should recommend ways for the general public to support its causes and mission.

While specific cultural and legal considerations will inform how each of our zoos and aquariums can approach advocacy, it’s clear that advocacy is an essential piece of our conservation toolkit.

This section is intended to help you consider advocacy in your climate action plan as you integrate the knowledge you gain from Climate Alliance.

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Let's begin with Activity 5A–Focus.

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