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Poll: Kids eager to protect Earth
Detail: Have you ever noticed how young zoo visitors widen their eyes as they pass the bears, big cats and elephants? Or how long the line is for a chance to touch the stingrays at the aquarium?

These same children also realize it'll largely be up to them to maintain an environment in which these critters and creatures thrive.

Over the past year, nearly 60,000 youngsters responded to a poll about the condition of the planet that was conducted by Proprietary Media on behalf of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.

The poll was offered at zoos, aquariums, schools and at AZA's Web site.

The results show that children believe in volunteerism and they are eager to do their part to ensure animals always have a place on Earth.

"Three main things came out of the poll: One, kids think the environment has some serious problems; two, kids want to help; three, they think they really can make a difference," says Bruce Carr, director of conservation at the AZA.

The challenge now is to take this desire to make things right and parlay it into action. It will work best if an emotional connection between children and conservation is established when the children are young so they'll have a lifelong, vested interest, he says.

Programs at zoos and aquariums aim to act as a bridge to show children that their efforts can - and do - pay off. "We try to connect the animals in the zoo to the real world," Carr says.

Source: By Samantha Critchell, Associated Press
Date: May 27 2003