In honor of National Zoo and Aquarium month, American Humane is celebrating Humane Certified™ zoological facilities and the incredible work they do to save species, provide life-saving research and education, and inspire millions of visitors each year to protect the animals that they see and interact with. The following blog post was submitted by Roger Williams Park Zoo.
Since 1872, guests from New England and around the world have been visiting Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, RI. Home to 340 animals, this 40-acre park is more than a traditional Zoo. Spend a few hours, and any guest realizes that the Zoo provides conservation to several endangered species and empowers visitors to become stewards of the environment. With 650,000 guests annually and support from local and state government, Roger Williams Park Zoo earns its place as the state’s treasure.
Zoo staff listened to feedback from many guests and now incorporate a call to action into each new exhibit that opens including the Alex and Ani Farmyard which opened in 2014, and Faces of the Rainforest which opened in November 2018.
The Alex and Ani Farmyard looks like a typical Rhode Island farm and celebrates the diversity of farms around the state. The various elements within the exhibit immerse families in farm life; teaching them about a farmer’s day-to-day work, the reasons farmers love farming, and the challenges farmers face. Children engage in play-based activities to understand how a farm operates. Every visitor is not going to become a New England farmer, but urging folks to buy local as a call to action ensures the Zoo is supporting farmers around the region and teaching families the importance of locally grown products. There are several animals in the yard interacting with visitors including goats, sheep, alpacas, and chickens, a non-domesticated barn owl as well as Flemish giant rabbits, Guinea hogs, and Willy the miniature donkey who is very vocal!
The Zoo’s newest exhibit, Faces of the Rainforest, provides a totally immersive experience allowing guests to witness a free-flying aviary, water slide for giant otters, a variety of primates, array of marine life, interesting amphibians, and engaging reptiles. Each detail of the Rainforest exhibit is a unique adventure all on its own. In addition to the animals and vegetation, the intent of the exhibit is to emphasize that regardless of where we live, we are all part of the rainforest. Our daily actions, whether we realize it or not, affect the rainforest. As guests enter the exhibit, they view photos of the men, women, and children who live in the South American Rainforest. As visitors leave the Rainforest yard the FACE they see is their own image reflecting in a large mirror honing the message that everyone is a face of the Rainforest. This exhibit was built thanks to Rhode Island voters who supported a multi-million bond that included the exhibit.
Zoos today are not just a great place to visit, but a terrific place to learn and understand why conservation and our environment is important. Roger Williams Park Zoo wants all its guests to know that their actions affect not just their own hometown – but the global world in which we live.