Every year, all around the world students are coming home from school with permission slips for their parents to sign for the annual field trip to the local zoo. It’s a traditional field trip that students enjoy, parents support, and often volunteer to participate in. We sign the permission slips without batting an eye, but have you ever asked yourself: Are zoos really necessary for your child’s education?
As a parent of three children, I would have to say a resounding ‘yes’. A face-to-face experience with animals goes a long way to educate our youth about the animal kingdom and all creatures inhabiting our planet. Zoos are not just a practical and safe way to view animals from all over the world, they allow us to observe animals moving and interacting with each other. While children can read and study about a variety of animals in science class, they cannot fully appreciate the stature of giraffe or the magnificence of an elephant without observing it firsthand.
Although zoos vary from city to city, and country to country, each zoo has a capacity to teach respect for animals and their natural habitats. Accredited zoos meet strict requirements on care and handling of all species and include educational programs to teach children and adults about the animal facts, species survival rates, and how to protect endangered species.
There are very few places where children can experience in person and sometimes have a hands-on introduction to exotic animals, many not found in their textbooks. The zoo is the ideal place to demonstrate how complex the animal kingdom is, and may encourage students to learn more about them. Many zoos have classes children can participate in to enrich their experience and deepen their understanding of animals and nature.
More and more zoos are upgrading and improving their exhibits to include aquariums, desert and jungle environments to allow visitors to observe animals in their natural habitats and experience the world animals live in. Encourage your children to fully engage in the zoo experience. Today’s children are tomorrow’s veterinarians, caregivers and zookeepers.