Reinforcing Marine Conservation Messages: Case Study at the Houston Zoo
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The Houston Zoo has been involved in conservation efforts worldwide for many years. However, in 2015, the Houston Zoo pledged to make conservation its priority and improve upon the existing conservation programs. In 2015, the Houston Zoo developed partnerships with 28 conservation organizations in 10 different countries. The sea lion team at the Houston Zoo adopted a conservation initiative of its own in 2014. The efforts focus on monofilament and illustrate how institutional policy is essential to allocate and leverage limited resources through volunteer effort and external partnerships. The Houston Zoo sea lion team has built a credible and successful conservation initiative by partnering with NOAA in creating in-situ conservation action. Daily sea lion presentations have been modified to include marine debris messaging to create continuity of implementation throughout the sea lion team practices. The ambassador qualities of our California sea lions appeals to the affective learning domain to promote emotional connections to the animals and the natural world. Awareness and action are increased by engaging the cognitive learning domain through the Houston Zoo’s Interactive “WOW” signage placed strategically throughout the exhibit. The Houston Zoo reaches an extensive audience (2.46 million visitors in 2015) by strengthening the relationship between marine conservation and zoos, using both in-situ and ex-situ methods. This transferable conservation project model documents the project planning phase for use by others in the zoo community.
Subjectconservation, marine conservation, conservation messaging, ambassador animals, monofilament, marine debris, NOAA, zoo, project model
DepartmentWildlife and Fisheries Sciences
Crane, Heather (2016). Reinforcing Marine Conservation Messages: Case Study at the Houston Zoo. Available electronically from