Program Animal Presentations

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Program Animal Presentations

AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums are ideal venues for developing emotional ties to wildlife and fostering an appreciation for the natural world. The presentation of program animals can provide the compelling experience needed for visitors to gain and maintain personal connections with their own relationships with nature. With these benefits, however, AZA recognizes that program animal presentations require a host of responsibilities that are required to ensure the welfare, health and safety of the animal, handlers, and public, and stress the importance of ensuring conservation take-home messages are received by the audience.

Benefits of Program Animal Presentations

The AZA Conservation Education Committee (CEC) has developed a Program Animal Position Statement that supports the presentation of program animals in the conservation education programs of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and illustrates many of the benefits these presentations have on audience engagement, knowledge acquisition, and enhanced environmental attitudes. Studies have shown that the presentation of program animals is a powerful catalyst for learning for a variety of reasons including:

  • Increases the length of time that people are engaged with the program animals thereby lengthening the potential time period for learning and overall impact.
  • Provides the opportunity to personalize the learning experience, tailoring the teaching session to what interests the visitors.
  • Allows the visitors the opportunity to make specific inquiries about topics in which they were interested.
  • Enhances the delivery of cognitive and empathetic messages.
  • Increases affective learning and attitudinal change.

Read more about the CEC Program Animal Position Statement.

Responsibilities for Program Animal Presentations

AZA recognizes the many benefits program animal presentations provide and has established several Accreditation Standards, Board-Approved Policies, and recommendations to guarantee that the welfare, health and safety needs of the animals, handlers, and public are met and ensure conservation messages are received by their audience. These include the: