June is National Zoos and Aquariums Month!

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By Karen Bouldin, Program Assistant for the EdLab Group

National Zoos and Aquariums Month is celebrated annually to honor the role of zoos and aquariums in conservation, education, recreation, and research. National Zoos and Aquariums Month is also intended to promote and encourage more individuals to visit American zoos and aquariums. 

Each year, 175 million people visit U.S. zoos and aquariums. Zoos and aquariums are becoming more popular, as more and more build exhibits that closely resemble wildlife environments. Furthermore, zoos and aquariums provide an array of engaging and interactive educational programs and resources, which allow many individuals to learn about science in an informal setting. For example, the San Diego zoo offers ready-to-use curriculum, classroom kits, videoconferencing, in-class visits from a zoo educator and animals, and an array of other hands-on activities for students.  

These programs and resources can significantly improve science-learning outcomes for individuals from groups that are historically underrepresented in science, such as women and minorities (Source: http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?recordid=12190).

Each year about 50 million children and 12 million student learners visit U.S. zoos and aquariums. Summarized in table 1 are the top ten most-visited zoos in the United States. Popular U.S. aquariums include the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL, the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, GA, and Montereybay Aquarium in Monterey, CA. 

Top Ten Most-Visited Zoos

Zoo Name

Number of Annual Visitors

1. San Diego Zoo

3,200,000

2. Lincoln Park Zoo, Chicago

3,000,000

3. Saint Louis Zoo, MO

2,934,753

4. Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, OH

2,374,125

5. Brookfield Zoo, IL

2,283,065

6. Smithsonian National Zoological Park, D.C.

2,251,712

7. Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, St. Paul, MN

2,230,000

8. Bronx Zoo, NY

2,045,504

9. Denver Zoological Gardens

1,967,839

10. Houston Zoo

1,841,777

Source: Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), 2010

For additional resources and information about zoos and aquariums visit: http://www.aza.org