Research shows that encouraging and developing empathy for animals in children is an important motivator toward action on the animals’ behalf. Employing empathy framing allows visitors to see animals as unique individuals worthy of care and conservation. Therefore, we’re working to enhance exhibits, develop curriculum and other teacher resources, offer empathy fellowships, hold biennial empathy conferences and design an innovative outreach vehicle to expand our empathy reach beyond the Aquarium. Staff at the Seattle Aquarium also offer empathy workshops around the country to help other aquariums and zoos incorporate empathic learning into their institutions.
Empathy Café is a monthly web chat series that discusses topics of interest related to fostering empathy for conservation of wildlife. Empathy Café sessions last one hour and include time to connect and hear updates from one another, engage with a presentation or facilitated discussion, and share opportunities for collaboration or workshop problems of practice. This series is free and open to all.
Fostering Empathy for Wildlife Workshop
Are you interested in learning more about using empathy to motivate guests to take conservation action? The Seattle Aquarium leads workshops around the country to help aquariums and zoos do just that. Register for one of our workshops today to understand how empathy is developed toward wildlife.
The Empathy Fellowship is designed to create a pipeline into careers in aquariums, zoos and the conservation field for communities of color and other marginalized communities that bear the brunt of environmental harm and historically haven’t reaped the benefits of the solutions proposed. The Empathy Fellowship offers job experience in the marine conservation field, with a focus on the role that empathy can play in both marine conservation and addressing the disproportional impact of environmental degradation on communities of color and other marginalized communities.
Dive Deeper into our Empathy Work
Research shows that encouraging and developing empathy for animals in children is an important motivator toward action on the animals’ behalf. In July we hosted a marine summer camp for 6–7 year-olds called “Who in the sea is just like me?”.
Each summer, hundreds of Aquarium beach naturalists engage with beach visitors to share their knowledge about local marine animals and habitats. Explore how we incorporated empathy best practices into beach naturalist training and field materials.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, Seattle Aquarium, and Woodland Park Zoo were honored with a significant achievement award from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) for their collaborative “Fostering Empathy for Animals” project.
Developing Empathy for Conservation Outcomes (DECO) Conference
Every two years, the Seattle Aquarium hosts the Developing Empathy for Conservation Outcomes (DECO) conference, bringing together professionals from zoos, museums, aquariums and universities to discuss what we know about empathy as a conservation tool, and what our field still wants to explore.
For proceedings and other resources from the 2020 and 2022 conferences, check out the links below.