Connecting Zoo Members with Nature through Bird Walks
Kim Pendergest and Bill Mandel
Docents, Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, Los Angeles, CA
Zoo guests show wonder and amazement at the beautiful and exotic animals we display from all over the world, but how many stop and take notice of the native wildlife that they pass every day? In 2004, docents of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association’s Conservation Committee initiated early morning bird walks to observe the native birds that make their homes in the Zoo. While the walks were initially opened just to other docents and volunteers, the birders soon expanded the event to include members. Now the Zoo opens its gates early each quarter to enthusiastic, birdloving members (both expert and beginner) to walk through the Zoo and observe the wonderful array of Aves that live, breed, or pass through Zoo grounds. The walks, which reach an average of 300 members per year, not only help spread the birding bug to the next generation of conservationists, but also provide an opportunity to discuss other important topics, such as native plants, invasive species, use of pesticides, and how to establish a backyard habitat. Adults and children alike express enthusiasm for the wildlife in our midst, and they even learn a few things about conservation along the way.