UK Zoo Creates Website To Harness Next Generation of Online Activists


Photo by Jaymi Heimbuch

Like most "isms," Activism has a generational gap issue. Today's activists more often than not prefer to make a difference without having to physically do a whole lot. A zoo has created a new website in hopes to harness the good intentions of today's online-oriented young activists, ensuring conservation work gets done even among those who refuse to put down their cell phones. Chester Zoo is home to over 7,000 animals of 400 species, and hosts 1.4 million visitors every year. But if you've headed to a zoo lately, you'll noticed that the majority of visitors are parents with small children. One of the most endangered species at a zoo are the teens and twenty-somethings that make the next generation of activists. To bridge this gap and attract Generation Now, Chester Zoo has created a website called Act for Wildlife.
Reuters reports that Act for Wildlife will work to integrate social media, video and blogs to get younger people interested in wildlife, and more importantly, interested in conserving it.

The website came about after the sad results of a recent study came to light:

"The zoo commissioned a poll that showed that 66% of adults felt that 10-year-olds were more interested in technology than wildlife. The survey of 2,094 adults, conducted by YouGov, also found that 94% of adults felt that biodiversity conservation was important, yet only 15% actively helped a cause."

So Facebook beats out animals, and saying you support conservation beats out actually supporting conservation. Deeeepressing.

Act for Wildlife Is focusing efforts both on local conservation -- preserving UK habitats and species -- as well as world-wide conservation. Zoo visitors can go online to watch the progress of projects, and the zoo can broaden its reach beyond those who actually visit the physical zoo.

The funny part is, our addiction to technology is in no small part responsible for the state of the planet. The more we strive to be technologically connected, especially in nations like the US, the more greenhouse gas emissions we create as we fuel the data centers and manufacture the devices that keep us linked. And yet, it is this kind of connection that educates us about what is happening at some of the world's most important locations for biodiversity, conservation, and scientific study. We've become dependent on technology to keep us in touch with the "real" world -- and now the continuation of countless species is connected to websites, online petitions, Twitter and Facebook in strange but important ways.

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Tags: Conservation | Electronics | Technology

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