Zoos are no exception to exploring animals, as over 175~180 million people visit each year, according to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Many love to see all kinds of animals and learn from them, but the pandemic has taken quite the toll. With the increase of “virtual field trips” and online articles providing multiple sources of information, some pose the question if keeping animals inside a zoo is still worth it to teach children. Despite the decline, all zoos teach us more than just what an animal is. Zoos help everyone in education, as it gives us a hands-on learning experience, increases environmental awareness, and even give us a chance to exercise.
To commence, zoos give hands on experience of learning from animals. From the experience of learning, one can’t continue just to read and listen. Everyone needs some break from indoors to be more active and feel more world wonders. While the internet holds many experiences, seeing and feeling it through touch, smell, and taste in the outdoors makes a much larger impact. Mommy University gives a sample: “The Turtle Back Zoo also offers an amazing Touch Tank where visitors can touch live sharks and stingrays.” In other words, the “Touch Tank” allows people to learn and physically feel marine animals through the touch of a hand. While it may seem small at first, the memory will be engraved much more personally than reading the description from an article. A “virtual field trip” can’t mimic the feeling of feeding an animal, giving them head pats, or even taking a photo of them, which is why zoos are far superior. As “The Fairy Tale Traveler: Educational Benefits of Zoos” puts it: “Many zoos also offer a whole host of different learning activities and programs, including storytimes, singing sessions, or animal related craft workshops, all of which will engage and interact with your kids in a multi-sensory and highly interactive way.” To say briefly, zoos offer many more physical interactions with the animals, allowing one to use their six senses more and even bond with the animals. Zoos give a hands-on learning experience that allows us to feel the information more than learn it and spark new interests and memories through the physical senses.
In addition, zoos increase our environmental awareness from the physical experience. Zoos help us learn about certain animals, including those that are endangered and why. Some penguins may be decreasing in population because of global warming, or turtles may be suffering from plastic waste in the ocean; a zoo can teach us how to prevent these from happening to tend for the animals. Mommy University states:“Visiting a zoo helps children understand the importance of taking care of the environment as it has a significant impact on the lives and welfare of animals. Zoos also teach families about the importance of conservation and animal care.” Shortened, going to the zoo allows us to see why, what, and how to take care of the environment for the creatures as well. Online information would never include the same information together, whereas zoos connect the facts to each other. According to The Fairy Tale Traveler, “A massive surge in the use of modern technologies has left many kids glued to a screen for more than 7 hours a day, with little thought or understanding of the environment. However, when you visit a zoo with your kids, they have the opportunity to disconnect from screens entirely and learn about conservation efforts and the importance of looking after the planet’s wildlife.” This explains how zoos actually help them learn with information, through a conversation with professionals. A screen or a virtual meeting could never replicate the same statistics. Zoos increase awareness about the environment through the staff and activities, allowing for a much clearer understanding than through media.
Finally, zoos bring a form of physical exercise through activities and other structures throughout the area. It’s never a good thing to sit still in the same position, as one needs to go outside where wildlife thrives to find clean air to breathe and large amounts of vitamin D from the sun. The Fairy Tale Traveler states:“When your child is running around at the zoo, excitedly looking at all the animals, the fresh air is sending lots of oxygen through their blood and to their brain. This resulting in increased brainpower. Many zoos have playgrounds, climbing structures and miles of walking paths that are safe to let your kids go at their own pace and enjoy the freedoms of open space.” especially when some live in large cities, air pollution and little places to play leave your child stuck to a screen for seven hours a day. A zoo provides playgrounds along with many trees to keep the air clean, as well as plenty of activities with animals to exercise fluently. Mommy University also provides a similar explanation, reading, “Most zoos cover a vast amount of land which allows for ample exercise. Space Farms Zoo, for instance, has wide open spaces including several hills which is perfect for getting the heart pumping. Many zoos also provide playground areas for children to work those gross motor skills while making new friends.” The kinds of structures in zoos supplement your students with plenty of healthy benefits physically and mentally, even a new friend or interest can spark. Zoos can bring physical exercise to engage one’s body and purify their mindset.
To conclude, zoos are still the most useful source of learning from animals, not just to provide information on them, but to engage them through a hands on experience for physical learning, along with increasing our environmental awareness. All sources can teach us about different types of animals, but your mind would be left empty with just information gathered. It’s important to clear that mind and learn by actually being there to see an animal-it creates a much larger impact in one’s life. It gives younger kids a break from their tablets to take a look at other life prospering from a different view, in a different way. While one’s statistics and evidence may be gathered from texts, it is important to feel through your senses more than to just read and listen, and this applies to learning the most.