Activity 5A: Focus

Polar bear jumping sea ice floes

Advocacy Legalese

You don’t need a background in government affairs to participate in advocacy - all you need is the ability to communicate about and be proud of where you work. Whether you work in animal care, education, conservation, communications or guest services, there are meaningful ways to contribute to your organization’s advocacy work. 

Before we dive in, let’s get familiar with what we’re legally allowed to do.

Legal parameters of advocacy*

The good news: all zoos and aquariums can engage in advocacy! The type of advocacy allowed is determined by whether you’re a non-profit or government-run organization.

Both are allowed to have positions on issues, engage with legislators, gather public comments and support legislation. Non-profits have a little more freedom in that they may be able to support ballot initiatives that people vote on. Watch this video to learn more about legal parameters of advocacy for U.S.-based zoos and aquariums.

*The information in this section is intended for educational purposes only and does not replace independent legal advice nor is an attorney-client relationship is created. Each person and entity in encouraged to speak with legal counsel for legal advice.


  • What type of organization is your zoo or aquarium?

  • What type of advocacy is your organization already doing?

Polar bear mom and her twin cubs waiting for the sea ice to freeze

Photo: BJ Kirschhoffer / Polar Bears International


Continue on to Activity 5B–Explore.