People around the world depend on nature, not only for its natural resources and services, but for inspiration and to feel a connection to something larger than themselves. To achieve our conservation mission, we're using our science to inform and engage a global audience on the subject, to empower people to act in defense of wildlife and wild places.
Activate a conservation movement—a diverse, influential, and enduring global audience that is invested in saving wildlife.
All told, we've hosted more than 400 million visitors at our zoos and aquarium since the Bronx Zoo opened in 1899. For many, these parks are the only places they ever come face-to-face with awe-inspiring animals such as tigers, bears, and sharks and they remain integral to us achieving our mission.
In 2008, for instance, we opened Madagascar! at the Bronx Zoo to highlight a biological wonderland few zoogoers will get the chance to visit. The exhibit strives to provide both an introduction to the unique creatures that live on Madgascar and an understanding of the threats that jeopardize their survival in the wild. We also offer visitors opportunities to see the island through the eyes of a conservationist and to learn about strategies for how we might safeguard it.
This 6.5-acre exhibit at the Bronx Zoo opened in 1999, transporting visitors to the heart of the Central African rainforest, where poaching, the bushmeat trade, habitat destruction due to logging, and civil unrest all impact wildlife. In the exhibit, we engage our guests as stakeholders in the animals' conservation. Touch-screen stations give them the opportunity to choose how their exhibit admission fee is spent in support of WCS fieldwork. Options include okapi, elephant, gorilla, and mandrill conservation projects. The exhibit has raised over $10 million.
The New York Aquarium is currently undergoing an exciting transformation. The 57,000-square-foot Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit under construction will introduce the city to some of its most remarkable residents. Our mission to conserve the waters around New York will be woven into it, inspiring visitors to join us in protecting local marine life.
In our role as a global conservation organization, we are in a prime position to galvanize a concerned community around critical causes. We've already seen firsthand that this group can be a powerful voice for change.
African elephants are in crisis. Since its inception, our 96 Elephants campaign has rallied supporters from around the world to take action on their behalf, from pushing for legislative actions to ban the sale of ivory to raising awareness about the ongoing situation in Africa.
The New York Seascape is one of our 15 priority regions. In 2015, we launched a campaign to raise public awareness and gain protections for this underappreciated, diverse wilderness.
WCS Zoos and Aquarium Education has been advancing science education and increasing ecological literacy since 1929, when the department created the first curatorial position in education in an American zoo. In 2014, over 84,000 schoolchildren and 1,100 teachers participated in programs at our five parks alone.
The teen internship program gives New York City high school students the opportunity to learn about the local ecosystem and conduct research as part of a collaborative team with Fordham University scientists and WCS professionals. Its mission is to increase the rate of high school youth pursuing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors.
Advanced Inquiry Program
In collaboration with ProjectDragonfly at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, WCS offers a master's degree program for educators interested in ecological and social change. The AIP is an inquiry-driven learning experience allowing participants to take classes in-person from WCS faculty at the Bronx Zoo and on the web from Miami University faculty. As such, students gain firsthand knowledge of conservation work taking place locally and around the world and are able to connect to it in new, exciting ways.