Adelaide Zoo’s Sumatran new tiger cubs aren’t just cute; they’re critical to conservation efforts where the population of wild tigers is down to less than 400. Contributing to the future of conservation is South Australian Sarah Brown who has recently completed her 2018 Churchill Fellowship exploring technology platforms that could be employed by zoos in Australia, including Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park to further educate the public and encourage greater connection, ultimately fostering pro-wildlife behaviours and conservation activities.
“Many of us have fond childhood memories of zoos, but beyond that zoos are an important part of our future. Our zoos save wildlife through conservation, research and education.” said Adam Davey, CEO of the Winston Churchill Trust.
With extinction rates approximately 1000 to 10,000 times higher than natural extinction rates due to human impact, there is a real urgency for conservation. Technology may just provide a relatable mechanism to connect people with nature and Sarah’s Fellowship was driven by this concern.
“With the birth of these adorable new cubs, it is even more front of mind for me about the very real urgency for conservation action and to ensure zoos remain accessible and relevant.” said Sarah. “There are many platforms we can utilise and technology may just provide a significant springboard for more people to engage, be aware, and build support for conservation efforts.”
Sarah’s Fellowship was undertaken in a hybrid format, both online and in person. Sarah first travelled to Singapore where she toured a number of zoos and aquariums and then conducted online interviews with parties from the United States and the United Kingdom.
“We are pleased that Sarah managed to complete her Fellowship with such a thoroughly researched and well put together report. We are excited to see Zoos South Australia grow their visitor connection with Sarah’s findings.” said Adam.
Beyond Adelaide Zoo and Monarto Safari Park, Sarah hopes that her Fellowship research can be applied in a broader context, stating that her insight into the different opportunities that technology presents could be applied to zoos and aquariums throughout Australia and internationally.
“Like most things, when a tool or platform is used well there can be significant benefits.” said Sarah, while talking about her Fellowship findings.
“Technology is no different and can be utilised to enrich our connection to the world around us. Curating the visitor journey, enhancing the experience, deepening learnings and providing the tools for positive action are critical if we are to foster pro-wildlife behaviours and save species from extinction.” said Sarah.