2022- Conservation education and community engagement

Zoos and aquariums contribute to conservation through a range of different initiatives, including through education and community engagement projects. These projects aim to educate the public about conservation and help local communities connect with their natural environment. Education is a key driver of conservation action as it seeks to foster deep connections between people and nature, inspiring the public to take meaningful action in their everyday lives. 



NANZ 'Ocean and I' art exhibition


National Aquarium of New Zealand launch 'Ocean and I' art exhibition:

Over the month of October 2022, the National Aquarium of New Zealand held its inaugural Ocean and I' art exhibition. In a new approach for NANZ, artists from any and all artistic disciplines were invited to explore and share their own connections to the ocean. The pieces selected and created explored and expressed the artists’ memories of, experiences around and emotional connections to the ocean – with the artists’ words also displayed in signage alongside the work. The final exhibition encompassed the whole aquarium facility and hosted the works of over 30 New Zealand artists – including the beautiful works of three NANZ staff members. The exhibition also culminated in a collective artwork, where visitors had the opportunity to add to a piece that grew across the month.


Helping visitors understand the issues that the ocean faces is incredibly important, and the NANZ team hoped that by exhibiting artworks and shared experiences or responses from the artists themselves, they could encourage visitors to reflect upon their own connection to the ocean, and its significance for all life. As well as, aiming to help the local community forge deeper and more meaningful connections with nature. This opportunity invited artists and the art community into NANZ, connecting them with potentially new audiences, to build and strengthen their partnerships and support for their community.


Zoos Victoria and Port Moresby Nature Park partner to deliver the 'School and Community Citizen Science Project': 


In 2022, Zoos Victoria and Port Moresby Nature Park teamed up to deliver ‘Skul na Komuniti Save Projek’ (School and Community Citizen Science Project) to fourteen secondary schools across Australia and Papua New Guinea. 


The project was part of the PNGAus Secondary Schools Partnership, an initiative supported by Asia Education Foundation and Australia Awards Papua New Guinea. Students from both countries came together to learn about bird biology, habitats and migration. Students collected and analysed bird observation data, using the power of eBird – the world’s largest biodiversity-related citizen science platform. They then shared their findings with each other and with zoo scientists via video. Teachers built their capacity to include STEM and wildlife conservation in their curriculum and were provided with a range of lessons and resources that they can use again in the future. 


National zoo and aquarium’s ConZOOvation Team celebrate a successful year:


Easter ConZoovation Egg-stravaganza and Zoo Spooktacular


It was a busy year for National Zoo & Aquarium’s ConZOOvation Team (NZACT) in Canberra. Led entirely by volunteers, the team launched the NZACT Master plan, the first of its kind, in January 2022 and committed to raising a new goal of $50,000 for wildlife conservation groups over 12 months. 


Throughout the year, special events such as the Easter ConZoovation Egg-stravaganza and Mother’s Day Champagne Breakfast, provided guests with the opportunity to explore the zoo before opening hours, all while raising funds for a worthy cause. To celebrate Father’s Day, NZACT partnered with Bentspoke Brewing Co to put on the zoo’s first Brew-at-the-Zoo, proving to be a big hit with the dads! Unsurprisingly, the most popular event of the year was the Zoo Spooktacular with kids and adults of all ages dressing up in their scariest Halloween costumes to win the ultimate prize in the costume parade. 


As part of NZACT’s ongoing fundraising initiative “Cans for Conservation”, their volunteers recycle the zoo’s cans and bottles through the ACT Container Deposit Scheme. Since its initiation in 2018, this program has raised over $45,000 – saving over 450,000 containers from landfill! The team were very excited to present their work as part of the ZAA Conference “Inspiring sustainability action” in August. With the fundraising target well in sight NZACT capped off the year with their Community Christmas markets, showcasing the wonderful conservation and sustainability efforts of many local businesses from across Canberra and surrounds. 


Maru Koala and Animal Park refine their Animal Visitor Interactions: 


Koala feeding at Maru Koala and Animal Park      


In 2022, Maru Koala and Animal Park reshaped and refined their Animal Visitor Interaction (AVI’s) guidelines to adapt to the ever-evolving perception of animal welfare. Animal welfare is an evolving industry that can constantly be re-evaluated for improvements. The team at Maru believe that interacting with animals provides an opportunity for people to learn and educate themselves about different species. The bond that is formed within this interaction can then inspire change in the daily lives of individuals to contribute to the conservation of different species from home. 


The team at Maru have worked hard over the last few months to refine their AVIs to create a more meaningful, exclusive, and intimate experience for their visitors while always maintaining the highest standard of welfare possible. At Maru they are proud to offer a number of opportunities for visitors of all ages to learn from keepers about a variety of species, including their daily Koala Feeding Experience. 


Sydney Zoo launch the biggest and brightest light festival in Western Sydney:




GLOW at Sydney Zoo was the first light festival of its kind in NSW, offering an immersive, educational, and memorable guest experience. The inaugural event featured thousands of twinkling lights, nocturnal animals, giant lanterns, a neon garden, kinetic swings, a secret UV safari, interactive installations, ice skating, rides, food trucks, performers, glow-in-the-dark face painting and much more. GLOW was proudly designed specifically for varying levels of mobility, for everyone to have a fun time. Through this event, 30,000 children made a pledge to wildlife conservation. With the twice-sold-out event attracting over 100,000 guests over 37 nights.


Auckland Zoo celebrates 100 years:



2022 has been a mega year for Auckland Zoo as they celebrate their centenary. On the 16th of December they unveiled their special 100th exhibition to visitors titled  ‘Auckland Zoo – a century of wild life’. The exhibition follows the publishing of a centenary book in November - ‘Auckland Zoo, 100 Years, 100 Stories’. The rich and colourful unconventional history celebrating the Zoo’s past, present and future - being sold by the Zoo and in bookstores nationwide, is being extremely well received by public and media alike


ZAA Conservation Engagement Committee use survey results to drive future approaches to conservation engagement education and training:


Snapshots from survey results presentation 


The ZAA Conservation Engagement Committee’s (CEC) aim is to support members with further enhancing their significant conservation engagement and education work. This year the committee distributed a survey to the membership to collect data on members experience with the World Zoo and Aquarium Engagement Strategy (WZACES). The committee received 113 respondents across 41 member organisations. This data will help ZAA CEC locate priorities, identify training needs, and establish a baseline for future education and training.


A notable outcome of the survey were differences in responses from large organisations compared with smaller institutions. It is clear, but perhaps unsurprising, that lesser resourced facilities find difficulty having documented and measurable strategic plans. A key outcome for the ZAA CEC is to develop an action plan focussed around sharing best-practice amongst CEC members, and identifying and removing barriers that smaller institutions may face. Access the results of the survey and ZAA CEC’s strategic plan for the future here.