Jennifer Atkinson gave the keynote address at a multi-day summit hosted by ACE for Wildlife (Advancing Conservation through Empathy), a network of twenty AZA accredited zoos and aquariums working together to create effective practices to foster empathy for animals and people. This year’s conference was hosted by Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, which recently launched a multi-year effort to implement practices that foster empathy for animals in zoos and aquariums. The goal of these efforts is to motivate guests towards taking conservation action -- not just here in Washington, but across the country.
Atkinson’s keynote address explored an issue that has come to the forefront of ACE for Wildlife’s work in recent years: how to balance feelings of empathy for wildlife with feelings of eco-anxiety that exists not only among zoo and aquarium practitioners, but also among the guests receiving their messages. Seattle Artist Anne Jess also joined the session to create a live graphic recording of Atkinson’s keynote address. The final graphic can be viewed below.
Atkinson’s talk was ultimately attended by 60+ member organizations from the ACE Network who came to learn about empathy and leave with concrete goals to advance empathy-fostering practices at their zoos and aquariums.