The provided information is based on a survey of 59 animal- associated wildlife centers (AAWCs) and eight interviews from AAWC educators or directors.
Definition of AAWCs: AAWCs are nonprofit organizations that provide sanctuary to native or exotic animals, rehabilitate and release native wildlife that is injured or orphaned, and/or house non-releasable wildlife for educational purposes. The scope of this definition may include, but is not limited to, sanctuaries, rehabilitation centers and conservation centers.
Research on these organizations revealed nuanced differences among mission statements and how individual organizations classified themselves; e.g., clinics, rehabilitation/rehab centers, rescue groups, sanctuaries, conservation centers, etc.
Even though wildlife sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers are each unique and may have different intentions and missions, the two organization types are grouped together for the purpose of education. Regardless of the animal species housed at the organization, both wildlife sanctuaries and rehabilitation centers use similar educational strategies to teach conservation, natural history, and human-impacts on wildlife and can benefit from shared resources.
- They work towards larger conservation goals
- They are small-scale or community based nonprofits
- Their intentions stem from an empathy towards animals.
Results from AAWC survey:
|Educational Programs Offered||%|
|On-site private tours||64.4%|
|On-site public tours||62.7%|
|Classes, courses and/or workshops for the public||54.2%|
|Use of specimens and/or touchable objects||86.4%|
|Live animal demonstrations||76.3%|
|Injury/ research projects||44.1%|
|Participant interaction with animals||18.6%|
|Use of Ambassador / Educational Animals||%|
|Yes for all ed. activities||27.1|
|Yes for some ed. activities||52.5|
|Content Themes Taught||%|
|Wild animals do not make good pets||88.1%|
|Positive attitude change towards species of concern||85.4%|
|Human impact on the environment||86.4%|
|Educational Theories/ Philosophies/ Strategies||%|