Taronga Zoo has won the Zoo and Aquarium Australia award for outstanding achievements in promoting conservation issues to the community.
The world-famous Zoo shared the Zoo and Aquarium Association’s (previously Australasian Regional Zoological Parks and Aquaria or ARAZPA) Education Award with Zoos Victoria for its innovative outreach program designed to inspire community support and action for locally endangered species.
Taronga’s Education team won the award for its innovative community outreach program “Project Insitu”. The program facilitated school children connecting with locally endangered species to encourage them and their communities to protect these wild animals, including Little Penguins, Regent Honeyeaters and Boorolong Frogs.
Taronga’s Education Manager, Paul Maguire, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have received this award. These specialised education programs are all about ‘bridging the gap’ between experts, such as scientists working towards recovery efforts, and the community.”
“The school children develop an appreciation for their locally endangered wildlife and hear about what the experts are doing. We then get them involved in practical exercises such as restoring habitat. They are then challenged to create community action and awareness programs to engage people in their local communities to help save these animals”.
The Taronga Education team has developed educational programs for Manly’s endangered Little Penguin colony with 800 school children participating this year; “Project Booroolong” where students at Tumbarumba got behind their native critically endangered Booroolong Frog and children from Chiltern, Victoria rallied behind the tiny endangered bird, the Regent Honey Eater.
The ZAA Awards are exceptionally challenging, with only six of 70 Zoos and aquariums across Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific receiving awards this year at the conference dinner held at the RACV Healesville Country Club last night.
Zoos Victoria’s “They’re Calling On You” campaign received equal first place for their public awareness campaign which harnessed community action to help with primate conservation primates in the wild by encouraging people to recycle their mobile phones.
The ZAA links member zoos and aquariums in a network for wildlife conservation, environmental education and wildlife research which reaches over 12 million people annually. The peer awards recognise those who have excelled in their conservation endeavours throughout the year.
The Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria Awards were created seven years ago to encourage member zoos and aquaria to strive for greater achievements for wildlife on behalf of the community.