To provide enriching environments in which plants and animals offer an ever-changing and exciting educational and recreational experience for our guest with a focus on the conservation of our limited natural resources.
There are a series of broad, general principles a modern zoo must encompass to serve its resident animal collection and city/communities in which it is located. These principles are interrelated and provide the justification for the presence of a zoo in any society. They can be summed up in five words: Education, Recreation, Research, Culture, and Economics.
While it is true that people prefer not to be subjected to "education" during their leisure time, it should be impossible for a person, whether child or adult, to visit a modern facility such as the Abilene Zoological Gardens without in some way improving their understanding and knowledge of the world in which we live. People are not apt to protect, appreciate, or respect that which they do not understand and respect. Our ignorance of our relationship with the natural environment has contributed to, and in fact has been responsible for the destruction of numerous natural resources, resulting in the extinction or threatening of many species of animal and plant life. It is not difficult to demonstrate that if continued, the end result will minimally produce an extremely hostile environment, and diminish our own capacity as a species to survive.
The line between recreation, education, and culture is thin. It is difficult to determine where one begins, and the other ends, for even in play or leisure time activities, the learning process continues. By association with the "environment", whether it be at a trailside museum, a nature walk, or simply watching the activities of animal life within the Zoo, the visitor experiences a recreational activity that cannot be separated from education.
While studying soil, water, plants, atmosphere, and animals, we soon realize that they are interrelated, inter-dependent, and that "animals" include mankind. In the process, we find that we have been competing with nature and abusing this incredible resource with little thought of the potential consequences, and that these resources are finite and irreplaceable. The Abilene Zoological Gardens' role in conservation is potentially varied, going beyond concepts, to public leadership, to maintenance of gene pools, to learning the required conditions needed to breed selected species for reintroduction.
As a regional facility, the Abilene Zoological Gardens provides potential living research opportunities for students and professionals, as well as accommodating the facility's internal research goals. Teaching and studying stations with benches at animal or botanical display areas provide a place for sustained and detailed observation.
A cultural facility in a community might include museums, libraries, theaters, schools; in fact, any facility that involves and enriches the lives of people. The Abilene Zoological Gardens' animal exhibits, in which the animals receive first consideration and provide environmental conditions encouraging the proliferation of the species into family groupings, has gone well beyond what was once considered "good" zoological practice. Again, culture, recreation, and education are interrelated.
The economic implications and considerations of a zoological park to a community are several. A modern zoological park enhances the general image and appeal of a community. A modern zoo tends to improve the stability of a community, attract more people, and this, in turn, creates an increased labor force that draws industry. It at once suggests a community that is a good place in which to live, work, shop, and most importantly, to enjoy life.
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