Zoo Miami educates children while focusing on conservation efforts

tiger cub and mother

Zoo Miami is more than just a place where visitors can see animals in replicas of their natural habitats – it’s an experience that fosters wildlife and conservation awareness through high-quality education.

“Our programs make science, nature, and conservation accessible to a diverse South Florida population,” said Marie Hernandez, director of development at the 750-acre zoo that houses about 400 species. Zoo Miami’s education programs include

  • outreach and field trips for students from pre-K through high school;
  • Conservation Teen Scientists and ZOOM Ahead, programs that teach life skills and offer career exploration opportunities to high school students;
  • Nature Play, a program that allows families to connect directly with nature through campouts and Everglades exploration; and
  • Zoo Camp for ages 4–12 and a junior zookeeper program for ages 11–15, featuring wildlife education, hands-on activities, and the opportunity to make new friends.

Publix Super Markets Charities has supported Zoo Miami and its focus on educating children for two decades. It provided a donation, in the form of a matching grant, to name the habitat viewing area for the Sumatran tiger habitat.

“Experts estimate that only three hundred to four hundred Sumatran tigers are left in the wild, and we have been fortunate to experience three critical Sumatran tiger births,” Hernandez said. “However, the current space limits breeding to every three to four years due to tigers being solitary animals.”  The expansion will give children a dedicated space to explore and understand the efforts to safeguard the tigers.

“Publix Charities’ grant will help inspire additional support to enhance the habitat with more holdings, outdoor areas, and breeding space needed to become a global leader in Sumatran tiger species survival,” Hernandez said. “We are incredibly grateful to those who have partnered with us on this project to help make it possible.”

Publix Charities’ support has helped elevate the zoo to national excellence, she said. “Zoo Miami Foundation is truly grateful for their ongoing partnership, which has enabled us to provide enduring and meaningful educational experiences to more than a million visitors and supporters annually,” she said.

The zoo—which showcases animals from various parts of the world, including Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Amazon—is important because the animals act as living, breathing ambassadors for their counterparts in the wild, and guests can form lasting connections with them. “There is no comparison between looking at a picture online and making eye contact with the intense stare of an apex predator, or watching the protective care of a mother, or seeing a cub explore their world,” Hernandez said.

The zoo hopes to inspire children to pursue careers in biology, veterinary science, and conservation by showing them how zookeepers and veterinarians can make a positive impact on the natural world.