Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is committed to reducing its carbon footprint and encourages our guests to do the same. As both a zoo and aquarium, we have a unique opportunity and mandate to communicate with our guests ways in which we can work together to conserve Earth’s biodiversity. Our current campaigns include increasing awareness of climate change, no-idling, and eating local. We have joined with six zoos and aquariums in Oregon and Washington to advance this work using the combined resources and talents of each institution.
PDZA spent a full day training its 60 member youth volunteer team on climate change messaging as it relates to Polar Bears. Prior to the training we administered a per-test to our youth volunteers that assesses their knowledge and attitudes on this topic. The assessment is a standardized one that we’re using throughout our Alliance and was developed by Kathryn Owen of Woodland Park. Our training consisted of a PowerPoint, photos, and videos provided by Polar Bears International. All of our training and messaging on Climate Change was tied back into Polar Bears, how it impacts them, and what we can do to help. We also did an activity where we compared the carbon footprint of buying bananas at the grocery store to buying strawberries - comparing the difference in how much energy is required to get them to our local grocery store.
Our main messaging we try to deliver to our guests is our No Idle campaign (we have 'Polar Bear Pal' no idle window clings that we distribute to visitors that highlight common myths regarding idling), and eating local.
Our primary activity is "Balancing Bears" where we use a large wooden scale and small plastic Polar Bears. Youth Volunteers ask guests what types of things they currently do/or can do to help bears, and give them a small weight to place on the scale. The goal is to raise the bears up so they don't "Drown".
Our second major initiative at PDZA is a $20,000 overhaul of our Rocky Shores/Tundra graphics that includes animals that are highly impacted by climate change: reindeer, muskox, polar bear, and walrus. This graphics remodel will have a climate change theme integrated throughout the messaging for all animal areas.