Seeing, hearing and even smelling animals, especially ones we may never get the chance to see in the wild, can spark a variety of emotions. And one emotion is so powerful it can lead to positive change and make the world a better place. We’re talking about empathy, and the Zoological Society of Milwaukee is thrilled to announce it has received a $250,000 grant from Woodland Park Zoo to use toward growing its empathy plans, goals and programs.

Woodland Park Zoo’s (WPZ) Building Organizational Capacity to Foster Empathy for Wildlife Granting Program is a part of the zoo’s Empathy Initiatives, which are multi-pronged approaches to building collaboration across Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) organizations as well as integrating effective empathy best practices to inspire conservation action in our audiences.

Supported by a private funder, this granting program supports AZA-accredited organizations in their efforts to plan, build, and/or expand programs aimed at advancing empathy for animals and wildlife. Projects supported by these grants will help organizations develop and sustain effective empathy practices, leading to increased empathetic connections to animals in their respective communities. Tools, resources, and lessons learned will be shared with the collaborative Advancing Conservation through Empathy (ACE) for Wildlife Network.

The Zoological Society of Milwaukee will develop a community-focused program design process and organization-wide evaluation framework to ensure our offerings not only achieve our vision of fostering empathy for wildlife to inspire conservation action, but best serve our customers by providing culturally-responsive learning spaces. “Empathy is the heart behind our efforts to save animals and protect the planet,” says Jodi Gibson, Zoological Society president and CEO. “This grant will help us establish the building blocks of a program that will empower our community to take conservation action.”

The Zoological Society will begin work this spring to create community-relevant empathy for wildlife (CREW) offerings that intentionally reach a broad audience reflective of our diverse Milwaukee community.


About the Zoological Society of Milwaukee:

The mission of the Zoological Society of Milwaukee is to conserve wildlife and endangered species, educate people about the importance of wildlife and the environment, and support the Milwaukee County Zoo

About Woodland Park Zoo:

Founded in 1899, Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle engages more than a million visitors of all ages, backgrounds, abilities, and walks of life in extraordinary experiences with animals, inspiring them to make conservation a priority in their lives. The zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in the wild through more than 35 wildlife conservation projects in the Pacific Northwest and around the world.