WORLD ELEPHANT DAY!
Happy World Elephant Day 2018!
Like most of the World/International/National (place animal species here) Days, today is a day for the world to focus on the current state of a species - And today that's elephants.
However, this blog post isn't about the current state of elephants
in the wild. I think you can find plenty of information about the current state of elephants on social media or with some specific Google searches. Heck, you probably found this post from one of my social media posts. And if you came from one of the Zookeeper Rick accounts, you know you can find more elephant info on those social media platforms.
So what exactly am I posting about? Attention. Yes, I am posting about attention.
Back in my day... Okay, that's not accurate because I don't have a day. What I am trying to say is, when I first started my journey and career in wildlife education and animal care, the only way to reach people about conservation was through person to person interaction. And usually, that audience was already interested in learning more or already aware of what was going on, because they were visiting the zoo.
Beyond that, media platforms to reach millions (like TV) were very
limited to a few documentary films and the rare (and brief) news story. And even then, those were subject to editorial influence by someone in the television industry who needed to make sure certain ratings were being met.
But oh, how times have changed in just a few short years. The attention of the general public has shifted to social media. And with social media individuals can "broadcast" without the influence or editorial powers of those who need to make certain ratings occur. Today, we can create original content, or share and re-post content that is meaningful to wildlife education, conservation and more. We can come together collectively and raise the profile of a species or raise awareness of the current plight of a species. And that means, through social media we can now reach people who can't come to the zoo or go on safari. We can grab valuable attention with images and video and then take advantage of that attention to educate and inspire.
Do I think having a single dedicated day to a specific species will change the world? Or, as I was asked earlier today, "Will having a World Elephant Day save them from extinction?" As with anything, a single activity probably won't solve a complex problem. But I do believe raising awareness on social media is one of the many pieces of the complex puzzle that is wildlife conservation.
Social Media offers us all a wide open area for communications. Yes, for some people it is a place to draw attention to themselves. For others it is a place to bully and troll others. For me, and many others I work with, social media is a place to broadcast and share important information about wildlife. Education and inspiration are both important components to getting more people involved. And when more people get involved, more sharing of information happens. More taking action happens. Behavior can change. Public policy and laws can change. And all of those are vital to the bigger picture.
Elephants - Free image from WIX web gallery
Digital screens - Free image from WIX web gallery