Stanley Hedeen, a professor in the department of biology, discusses zoos as classrooms.
How are zoos an important educational tool? Zoos are great facilities for teaching a variety of biological subjects: taxonomy, evolution, animal behavior, conservation and environmental science topics.
What do zoos show us about the state of our environment and the future of our world? Zoos show us that we are in the midst of a crisis: the extinction of species due to human activities. A visit to any zoo reveals a large number of signs designating an exhibited animal as an endangered species. It is estimated that more than 10,000 species of animals, plants, fungi and microbes become extinct every year at the present time (the natural rate of extinction is estimated at 10 per year).
How can students and other persons learn about proper conservation and preservation from zoo facilities? Zoo facilities often duplicate the habitat of an animal. Zoo signs point out that the largest reason for extinction is the loss of habitat. When the zoo visitor views an endangered species in its simulated habitat, they should think of the need to save that habitat in the natural world. By supporting organizations whose mission is habitat conservation, people are helping to lessen the present, unnatural rate of extinction.