Education


Photo: Connie Lemperle

Cincinnati Zoo (Photo: Connie Lemperle)

Education and interpretation are critical components of felid conservation. If people are unaware of or don’t care about conservation issues and the impact their actions have, all the legislation, research, captive breeding, reintroduction, and habitat protection happening around the world will have little chance of being sustained for future generations. In the end, saving wild cats comes down to the values that people place on wildlife and wild places. These values develop and change over time as we gain knowledge, collect varied perspectives, share experiences with role models, and make strong emotional connections to the natural world. Zoos are living classrooms where people experience and emotionally connect with wildlife. Zoos provide an ideal learning environment for families and children to gain an appreciation and understanding of the importance of predators and their role in nature.

Felid Education Advisors

Felid TAG places a high priority on the role education plays alongside conservation, science and husbandry in saving wild cats. Education Advisors play a critical role in and serve as consultants within the TAG’s felid programs for topics and issues related to conservation education, community outreach, and public awareness and assist with the design and execution of conservation and management goals.

Felid TAG Education Advisors
Shasta Bray
Brian Ogle
African Small Cats
Kelly Miller
Kim Colley
Alma Ruffin
Clouded Leopard SSP
Karen Povey
Jaguar SSP
Sunni Robertson
Lion SSP
Amanda Berlinski
Snow Leopard SSP
Tara Padula
Tiger SSP
Christina Dembiec
Ocelot SSP
Shasta Bray
Pallas’ Cat Red Program
Chris Radek
North American Felids
Brian Ogle
Fishing Cat SSP
Linda Castenada
Amur Leopard SSP
Kari Hart

Felid Husbandry Course

The Felid TAG Husbandry Course was created to fill a pressing need. Knowledge of the husbandry of large and small felids was being lost with the changeover of zoo personnel over the years. With this in mind, the Felid TAG acted to create this course to facilitate the transfer of this knowledge to both management and keeper personnel. The course itself is not static and constantly evolves to accommodate new information and new ways of passing this information along. Check the Husbandry page for more details.

All About Felids

The Felid TAG manages conservation programs for 18 felid species. Download the Felid TAG Poster. Learn more about each cat and its program. Clicking on a species takes you to a web page dedicated to that cat.

Key Educational Messages

The Felid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) recommends the following key messages for AZA member institutions to use in their educational efforts relating to wild cats.

Felid TAG Key Educational Messages

Messaging Strategies for North American Felids

Felid Special Event & Lesson Plans

Looking for help planning a felid-related education program or special event at your institution? Check out some of the great lesson plans and resources our members have shared here.

 

A professional trainer with the Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program asks an ocelot to show off its climbing skills during an assembly program.

A professional trainer with the Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program asks an ocelot to show off its climbing skills during an assembly program.

 

Ambasador Animal Guidelines

The focus on the guest experience at AZA accredited zoos and aquariums has increased dramatically in recent years and ambassador animals play an integral role in these activities. The interest in using felids as ambassador animals has also increased during that time and the Felid Taxon Advisory Group (TAG) has developed these guidelines to assist institutions that are considering initiating such a program or already have one in place. The guidelines are intended to complement the AZA Ambassador Animal Policy and the position statements of individual felid programs. For more information on the use of AZA animals as education ambassadors, check out the Ambassador Animal Scientific Advisory Group (SAG).

Felid TAG Guidelines on the Use of Felids as Ambassador Animals

 

 

How to Build a Good Cat Ambassador

So you’ve read the Felid TAG Guidelines on the Use of Felids as Ambassador Animals and have decided that your institution wants to begin using exotic cats as ambassador animals. What does it take to build a successful cat ambassador? Coordinator and Lead Trainer of the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s Cat Ambassador Program, Linda Castenada, provides some great guidelines to get you started.

 How to build a good cat ambassador

Wild Cats Do Not Make Appropriate Pets

Baby tigers, lions and ocelots are fluffy and adorable, but even when raised in captivity, they are still wild animals and do not make good house pets. It’s not uncommon for those of us who work in the zoo field to have people tell us they want an exotic cat as a pet. How do you respond? Telena Welsh from Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium provides some good talking points in the attached article.

So You Want an Exotic Cat