As President and CEO of AZA, I’ve been lucky to have the opportunity to go behind the scenes at several of our accredited zoos and aquariums. It’s a rare opportunity and incredible experience that if you have the chance, I highly recommend taking advantage of. National cable networks also recognize the value in seeing “behind the curtain,” and have invested in sharing the incredible work zoological professionals do every day with the world. The shows offer a different, unscripted glimpse into the world of some of the best zoos and best aquariums and the important animal welfare and conservation work they do.
On Sunday, May 19th, I’ll be tuning into Animal Planet’s brand-new television series, THE AQUARIUM, featuring one of our accredited facilities, Georgia Aquarium. The show will give viewers an unprecedented look into the inner workings of the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere. The audience will watch the stories of the multiple animals who call the Aquarium home, from Pinkie, a geriatric thirteen-year-old Asian small-clawed otter with a recurring nosebleed, to Tank; a very curious rescued green sea turtle who investigates an upgrade to his habitat. THE AQUARIUM will also document the efforts of passionate zoo and aquarium professionals as they rescue, rehabilitate, and protect animals in the wild. THE AQUARIUM will premiere at 8 pm EST on Animal Planet.
THE AQUARIUM follows Animal Planet’s THE ZOO, which aired its season 3 finale last week. THE ZOO features animals and staff at five Wildlife Conservation Society parks in New York City, including the Bronx Zoo. More than 50 stories were filmed over eight months as film crews documented the day-to-day activities at the Bronx Zoo and its sister parks. The show is incredible and has had amazing success, with more than one million viewers tuning in per episode. WCS creates engaging content to further connect with the audience after each episode: check it out here: https://bronxzoo.com/the-zoo.
I’m also thrilled to announce “Secrets of the Zoo,” filmed at Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and the Wilds, will premiere its second season on Nat Geo Wild with two episodes on June 2. What can you expect? Zoo veterinarian Dr. Priya will work with a human cardiologist to help a bonobo with heart problems, while the team at The Wilds awaits the birth of a litter of cheetah cubs. The second episode will follow the cheetah cubs’ story and take the audience on an emotional journey as the team cares for a monkey and a fox that fall ill.
Finally, ZooTampa at Lowry Park announced this week they will star in a six-part series on Nat Geo Wild premiering in winter 2020. The show goes behind the scenes to show why ZooTampa is the “ideal destination for anyone who loves animals."
Nearly 200 million guests visit an AZA-accredited zoo or aquarium each year, but shows like these expand the public’s understanding of what happens every day in accredited facilities. The reveal the happiness and heartbreak of veterinarians caring for sick animals, and they show firsthand out dedicated staff’s commitment to conservation. I hope you will all join me in watching zoos and aquariums at work.