Identifying the foci of mission statements of the zoo and aquarium community

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Museum Management and Curatorship



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aquarium, conservation, conservation education, mission statements, Zoo


© 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Zoos and Aquariums are increasingly being called upon to engage in conservation education to advance conservation goals and justify the keeping of captive animals. Further, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) requires that organizations include both conservation and education in their missions. Our research compared the mission statements of AZA-accredited zoos from 2004 to 2014 to assess how the collective goals of the community have changed. We found that conservation education has become a prominent goal within the zoo community. We analyzed the conservation education language used in all AZA-accredited organization's mission statements, and found that the majority focused on inspiration and connection, which are difficult to measure. We contend that a mission statement that reflects the organization's activities will serve as a stronger guiding force, improve the organization's ability to meet its goals, and promote the organization's value in the community. We recommend a shift toward skill-building and action-oriented language, which can be evaluated and may better facilitate behavior change. We suggest the best organizational missions strike a balance between adherence to community standards and reflect individuality, as a unique mission will better match institutional resources and strengths.

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