Want to see the ocean? It’s a Google search away. Interested in what’s going on in Rwanda? There’s an app for that. Looking for real-life experiences from a world away? Head to your local zoo or aquarium.
Dating back almost 3,000 years, zoos and aquariums give everyday people the opportunity to get in close quarters with nature—and they’re popular. More people go to these facilities each year than professional baseball, football, and basketball games combined, according to Scholastic. This can be tough to factor into the digital age, where children tend to spend more time with tablets than new experiences, which is why we want to stress the importance of zoos and aquariums.
When students go on field trips to these facilities, they’re getting much more than a fun day outside of the classroom—they’re getting a hands-on education. Not only can students see these animals function in their element, it can also open up their eyes to new ideas, career paths and initiatives. Plus, scientists and other zoo personnel can study animal behavior for a better understanding of the animal kingdom and share with growing minds.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums recently conducted a study to assess the impact of a visit. With more than 143 million patrons at zoos and aquariums over the course of a year, it’s a little difficult to track the impact these facilities can have. But in their sampling, they discovered approximately 42 percent of visitors believe these play an important role in animal care and education, and the majority agreed their visit strengthened their connection to nature.
While numbers and statistics are important, you can’t really track the impression these facilities have on children—but watching their reactions to dolphin shows and lions on the prowl is enough to confirm the value for us. Try it out for yourself—head over to your local zoo or aquarium, and let us know what you think in the comments below.
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