During your childhood a trip to the zoo was something of great excitement, maybe happening once or twice a year. The excitement that fills children when they are on their way to the zoo is something that is nearly unrivalled. For hours, they are captivated by sights and scenes they can usually only see on television or in movies. Whether walking through the African plains looking at the elephants and giraffes or gazing at the monkey swinging tree to tree, a day spent at the zoo was a great experience.
When we grow up some of us begin to have a different take on a trip to the zoo. We pay more attention to the small spaces the animals are kept it as well as the unfamiliar surroundings and temperatures they deal with daily. Taken out of their natural habitat, it is hard not to feel sorry for some of the animals. With history rooted in colonialism and brutality, the zoo industry had a terrible reputation for trading and making money off the poor treatment of animals. This changed in the 70’s as zoos began trading animals rather than paying for them.
However, there is one thing that cannot be debated and that’s a zoo’s positive effect on a nation’s economy. Zoos are a must see in some cities around the world. Developed in much the same way as a theme park, they are marketed as a fun day out for the whole family with a mix of activities for both young and old to enjoy.
In the US, a recent study has found that zoos around the country have contributed $16 billion in economic activity as well as 142,000 jobs contributing over $4.5 billion to workers personal earnings. The study carried out across the 232 AZA accredited zoos in the States showed that zoo’s supported local, regional and national communities through investment and job creation.
In the EU, the story is much the same, as member states poured money into the industry recognising the benefits it can have on the tourism industry. Such is the importance that governments give to zoos there, a conference is held every two years to improve zoos contribution to the overall economy as well as to think of news way to improve their marketing and branding campaigns.
Zoos have also been used to promote local species that may not capture children’s imaginations like lions or giraffes and create more knowledge about local heritage and local differences between zoos from different countries.
The EU also pledged over €7 billion into vocational programmes for students from all over Europe to build a “Europe of knowledge” which allowed students from varying countries within the EU to travel to other countries and visit their zoos.
Maybe it doesn’t seem that way when you are handing over your hard earned money for an overpriced hamburger but zoos important cultural and economic roles to play in societies all over the world, so next time you won’t feel so ripped off.