414 parts per million. That number represents the carbon dioxide levels in the air – the highest they have been in 650,000 years. The planet is warming. The Artic ice is melting, and in turn sea levels are rising. Facts and figures are conveying the urgent, potentially devasting situation we find ourselves in, and our tamariki know it. They are speaking up, and demanding change. And no one puts it better than teen climate activist Greta Thunberg, “We can’t just continue living as if there was no tomorrow, because there is a tomorrow”. It’s not all dire straits, we have a window of opportunity to reverse the situation.

Motivated tamariki and dedicated conservationists inspire hope for a future with positive environmental change. At Auckland Zoo we’re proud to be kaitiaki, or guardians, for wildlife and wild places, and are privileged to shoulder the responsibility of inspiring the kaitiaki of tomorrow. Our talented education teams teach students about sustainability and the challenges that face our environment, whilst our outreach team hand these students the tools to make change in their own backyards. It’s all about showing future generations it isn’t too late, exploring what fantastic initiatives are making a difference around Aotearoa and the world, and then teaching students real, tangible skills so they can actually make a contribution – the very same skills used by DOC rangers, council workers, and zookeepers in the field.


Inspiring Aotearoa’s tamariki

Watch how Auckland Zoo's passionate educators engage today's youth with conservation-based learning.

Change is happening – ‘green’ jobs are becoming highly valued, workplaces are becoming carbon-zero, and more and more people are choosing to volunteer their time or donate their money to worthy environmental causes. Often staff at Auckland Zoo speak of wanting to become a zookeeper for all the extra things that come with being a zookeeper – using their animal knowledge and environmental skills to make a difference in the world, to save species and their wild habitats.

We can all play our part, and there is no part too small. Whether it be pest monitoring in your backyard, volunteering with a community group, or simply learning and advocating, these are all cogs in a big machine that creates change. We’re proud to get feedback from students, teachers and parents alike that take the sustainability message on board and become another important part of the puzzle. Stanhope Road School is a terrific example of an organisation that has gone on to become an ‘enviro-school’, and I’ve seen the real enthusiasm with my own eyes. It’s a tangible outcome of inspiring and engaging a dedicated group of students, and giving them the tools to become kaitiaki of their own backyard.

Who can you inspire? Can you teach someone a new skill that might create change? Maybe there’s a community group in need of new volunteers. Just visiting Auckland Zoo contributes to education, advocacy, and the donations and support we give to conservation organisations all over Aotearoa and around the world. Keep an eye out for our new education sessions ready for school group bookings soon, and in the meantime make sure you check out our learning at-home education packs. We have zoo-themed learning from endemic species, environments and habitats, to adaptations and everything in between!