Zoos and aquariums connect people with nature when it's needed most


“No one will protect what they don't care about; and no one will care about what they have never experienced,” – Sir David Attenborough

Modern zoos and aquariums play an essential role in conservation because they are uniquely placed to create deep, personal connections between people and nature. This love for wild animals and places helps create a society that understands and cares about nature, inspiring people to take action to protect what they love.

Throughout 2019 ZAA-accredited zoos and aquariums have reached milestones and developed new, creative ways to connect people with nature.


Alby the turtle at Alexandra Park Zoo

Little blue penguins at National Aquarium of New Zealand

Little blue penguins at National Aquarium of New Zealand

Tiger cubs at Global Conservation Centre at Paradise Country

Alexandra Park Zoo in QLD welcomed Alby, a male white-throated snapping turtle (Elseya albagula), to its reptile population. This species is critically endangered and endemic to the Bundaberg region, providing an opportunity to educate the local community about endangered species right on their doorstep.  Alby is the only individual of his species on display in Australasian zoos, so he is an integral part of Alexandra Park Zoo’s conservation message.  Alby played a significant role in Bundaberg’s new Milbi festival – an event that celebrates the Bundaberg region’s connection with both marine and freshwater turtles, and Indigenous heritage, through arts and culture.

The National Aquarium of New Zealand connected people with nature through their Penguin of the Year campaign. It’s a fun competition to raise awareness of the smallest species of penguin in the world and was a huge success with over 12,300 votes received over the campaign.  Female Little Penguin Draco was winner, with elder Elmo second and resident ‘bad boy’ Mo coming in third.  Draco is actually Timmy’s (2018 winner) girlfriend so they’re now the power couple of penguin cove.

The campaign had incredible reach on social media, with worldwide interest from countries such as: Estonia, Israel, Germany, Poland, Chile, England, Brazil and Australia, with the most international votes coming from the United States. It also reached Australian media along with New Zealand national TV and radio, and local news and radio coverage.

Paradise Country’s ‘Save a Mate’ conservation program went global to help raise awareness and much needed funds for not only Australian native wildlife, but also animals around the world, with the launch of the Global Conservation Centre. The first animals to visit the Global Conservation Centre were tiger cubs Maliah and Melah, who spent just over three months at the park educating guests about the threats facing tigers in the wild and helping Paradise Country raise over $40,000 for Fauna & Flora International, an organisation dedicated to protecting threatened wildlife and habitats. The funds will be vital to their ongoing conservation efforts.

Their koala joey Tallow was also officially named Australia’s cutest koala joey in a nationwide search which was run by Tourism Australia. The campaign helped connect thousands with Tallow, building empathy and a personal connection with the plight of koalas.


Proud Asian small-clawed otter mum at Perth Zoo

Estuarine crocodile arriving at Perth Zoo

Mother and baby white-cheeked gibbons at Perth Zoo

The new Sydney Zoo celebrated its opening day in December

Perth Zoo wrapped up the end of the financial year in June with their highest visitation on record, welcoming 719,226 people through their gates – that’s almost ¾ million people exposed to their conservation messaging and connecting with nature.

The Zoo welcomed a snappy new arrival in October, an Estuarine Crocodile from Broome, and there were many animals born in 2019, including a giraffe calf, critically endangered White-cheeked Gibbon, six endangered African Painted Dogs and two litters of rare Asian Small-clawed Otter pups. The Zoo also celebrated wins with conservation partners including the release of the 800th critically endangered Western Swamp Tortoise and 24 endangered Dibblers reintroduced to Dirk Hartog Island as part of the “Return to 1616” project.

Sydney Zoo celebrated its opening day to kick off the Summer holidays. Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian declared the new Sydney Zoo open for business at an official ribbon-cutting ceremony, ahead of Sydney’s newest attraction opening to the public on December 7.

The new zoo aims to give Western Sydney families and students a place to connect with a range of exotic and native animals. It is made up of four iconic precincts - Australiana including an aquarium, Primates, South East Asia and Africa. Visitors of all ages are now able to roam around the accessible site with 30 habitats, and more than 2,000 animals, specially created to provide a sense of openness and space for the animals, improving their welfare and the guest’s experience.