Humane Education

 


What is the Berman Academy for Humane Education?

The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) traces its origins to a group of animals abandoned by a bankrupt circus in 1883.  Citizens responded to by generously giving food and money to provide for their care.  The DZS was created on this foundation of helping animals in need.  The naturalistic habitats that were developed demonstrate a desire to share the beauty of wild places and their inhabitants.

More than 100 years later, the Berman Academy for Humane Education was formed.  A series of humane education initiatives were launched in 2002 and in 2005 as the Academy settled into its permanent home in the Ford Education Center.  The Academy offers a broad range of programs designed to meet the needs of our diverse audiences.   Unique and engaging programs utilize a variety of instructional strategies – including traditional instruction, storytelling, role-playing, theater, and virtual technology – to match the various learning styles of the community.  Through participation in formal and informal experiences, audiences understand the need to treat other living creatures with respect, responsibility, and compassion.  The Berman Academy for Humane Education was created to help people help animals.

 

  • Core Beliefs

    Humane Education Begins with Understanding


     

    All life is connected

    No one is alone. We are constantly interacting with our environment and our environment is interacting with us.

    Everyone needs a home

    All living creatures share similar basic needs of food, water, shelter and appropriate social and physical environments. A home, or habitat, provides these basic needs. Humane Education helps us to appreciate the amazing natural world around us and motivates us to ensure that all animals (human and non-human) have an appropriate habitat.

    The natural world is at threat

    Nature is fragile and many living creatures are at constant risk. Through humane education and appropriate practices, we can help to protect our planet and all its inhabitants.

    Key Concepts

    All animals are important. They should be treated with respect, responsibility, and compassion.

    • All life is interconnected.
    • All creatures have similar basic needs – food, water, shelter, and appropriate social and  physical environments.
    • Everyone needs a home.  In most instances, humans are responsible for the loss of animal habitats.

    Animals have feelings. This is an important aspect to consider, especially when contemplating an animal’s well-being.

    • Animals have cognitive abilities and emotional qualities.
    • They experience pain.

    All animals deserve consideration and respect for their physical and emotional well-being and should not be exploited.  Circuses, roadside menageries, rodeos, and many kinds of media are forms of entertainment that harm animals and humans’ understanding of them.

    • Animals in these conditions have inappropriate living conditions and are subjected to significant stress.
    • Animals’ basic needs, both physical and psychological, are not met in these conditions.
    • Animal training methods in these situations are often inhumane.

    Owners should view themselves as pet guardians and assume the responsibility to meet their companion animal’s needs.  Pets rely on us for their needs throughout their entire lives.

    • Exotic animals should not be pets.
    • People need to provide for the appropriate physical and psychological needs of their pets for their entire lives.

    An individual has the power to make a positive difference for other creatures.  Our personal choices can make a difference.

    • We need to protect and care for the animals that share our Earth.
    • People should intervene if they see an animal in trouble.

    Choices can be made that collectively benefit oneself, people, animals, and the environment.  Our choices can have far-reaching effects.  It is important to recognize the impact individuals and communities have on the Earth and its inhabitants.

    We have a responsibility to consciously consider, respect, care for, and protect all creatures and the environment.  Our daily activities can benefit the Earth and its inhabitants if the effort is made to consciously think through our actions.

  • On-site Initiatives

    DTE Energy Foundation Humane Science Lab

    One of several interpretive studios in the Ford Education Center, the DTE Energy Foundation Humane Science Lab is the hub of many of the Academy’s programs. The Lab provides an opportunity for students to learn about utilizing humane methods of study like virtual dissection models and simulations. Additionally, students, teachers and visitors experience other programs that model gentle ways of teaching and learning science. Outfitted with eco-friendly décor, the DTE Energy Foundation Humane Science Lab is wrapped in a large-scale humane education mural. It highlights ecological footprints of countries around the world, animals rescued by the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) and the message of “walking softly and treating the Earth’s creatures gently.”

    Backyards for Wildlife

    Backyards for Wildlife areas, such as the butterfly garden located near the Wildlife Interpretive Gallery, show visitors ways they can create desirable habitats for indigenous animals and plants. This area demonstrates that helping animals begins in your own backyard. Interpretive graphics emphasize the need and benefit of this type of backyard program. This is a model that can also be used to inspire a Schoolyard for Wildlife.

    Performing Arts

    The nationally acclaimed Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit was commissioned to create a humane education production, Zoomanity. Working with DZS staff, this talented group of youth produced a piece that promotes a better understanding of how we affect the world of animals, including the ones that live with humans – our pets. This production instills a strong sense of empathy for our pets, promotes responsible pet choice and care and motivates audiences to treat animals with respect and kindness. They also created a humane education medley. This medley is appealing to youngsters and has been used in a wide variety of programs. DZS visitors vary in their learning styles and aural learners are particularly receptive to song.

    Docents

    Docents, or volunteer educators, have contact with thousands of Zoo visitors each year at both facilities, through guided tours and informal learning experiences. They promote a humane ethic when interacting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds. Each docent training class includes a session dedicated to Humane Education. This includes a presentation that discusses humane education issues and the stories of the many rescued animals at the Society in order to better share humane education concepts with tour participants and guests. Annual re-certification for docents also includes a humane education component.

    Humane Education Film

    The DZS has produced a film by Academy Award winner Sue Marx. “From Animal Showboat to Animal Lifeboatillustrates the many ways animals in entertainment are exploited and suggests a different course for the future. This film won an Emmy and was co-written and co-produced by DZS Director Ron Kagan. This film is available to view in its entirety on the Zoo’s website.

    Media and Signage

    The DZS’s frequent press releases about issues involving animal protection, as well as substantial on-site signage about rescue animals, create visibility for the issues associated with keeping exotic animals, animals in entertainment and other welfare topics. They also encourage people to become animal advocates.

  • Why is Humane Education Important?

    Several issues demonstrate the need for a concerted Humane Education effort: exotic animals as pets, habitat destruction, lack of spending time in nature to understand and appreciate it, the pet overpopulation crisis, and the cycle of animal abuse and domestic violence. We are able to make a positive difference for people, animals and the environment when we are provided with accurate information about these following issues.

    Exotic Animals as Pets

    Domestic animals – such as dogs and cats – are the best pets. Unfortunately, millions of exotic animals become victims of the pet trade each year. Well-meaning individuals often purchase exotic animals with good intentions. Tragically, they do not understand the specialized physical and psychological needs of these creatures. Animals suffer and many stories are reported about the dangerous and frequently deadly outcomes when people keep exotic animals as pets.

    Habitat Destruction

    As the Earth’s population grows, the loss of native habitats for animals becomes increasingly greater. Many animals and their habitats are affected by the choices that we make. Understanding our impact on the Earth can result in the lessening of our ecological footprint and healthier habitats for all.

    Lack of Spending Time in Nature

    In a world of ever evolving technology, today’s children are increasingly disconnected from the natural world. Spending time in nature helps to instill respect, responsibility and compassion for the Earth’s creatures.

    The Pet Overpopulation Crisis

    Many people share a very special bond with their pets. Sadly, not all people develop and maintain these bonds. Animals are lost, stolen, surrendered to animal shelters, or worse yet, neglected, abandoned or abused. Lack of spaying and neutering is also of great concern. Each year an estimated 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in animal shelters. Pet overpopulation is a significant and serious problem.

    Cycle of Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

    Studies have demonstrated a correlation between animal cruelty and domestic violence. For a number of reasons, individuals may act out frustrations or anger toward animals, as a means to demonstrate power, to repeat behaviors that happened to them, or as a way to act against someone that has hurt them by hurting an animal they care about. These individuals develop a pattern of behavior that sometimes transfers into their interactions with other people.

    Citizenship

    Promote a sense of responsibility on a personal, local and global level to their fellow man. This would help instill a culture that what we do as an individual has consequences for others.

  • Outreach Initiatives

    Local and Regional Community Events

    The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) participates in many community events throughout the year. An integral aspect, the Berman Academy for Humane Education offers information such as the Shades of Green Guides that encourage people to think about their impact on the Earth and provides them with tools that help to lessen their ecological footprint.

    City Critters

    The DZS received a 2010 Significant Achievement in Education award from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) for its City Critters outreach program. The award, presented at the AZA Annual Conference in Houston, Texas, recognizes outstanding achievement in educational program design.

    City Critters enables children to develop an awareness of the animals that share their neighborhoods. Learning about these creatures enables children to better understand and appreciate them. Children are encouraged to study and enjoy wildlife from a distance. This program teaches strategies to peacefully co-exist.

    City Critters also includes a discussion on responsible pet care. Children are taught that their pets rely upon them to provide for all of their needs, including food, fresh water, exercise and love. The importance of always having proper identification on their pet is also emphasized.

    The Zoo works with local universities to train pre-service student teachers in humane education. As part of the training, the university students learn how to facilitate City Critters and help us to reach thousands of elementary school students each year.

    The City Critters outreach program is offered to underserved schools, including Detroit Public Schools, throughout the year.

    City Critters Goals
    • To promote an ethic of gentleness for other living creatures
    • To create better awareness and empathy of wildlife that share our environments
    • To promote appropriate pet choice and care (along with our colleagues at local humane societies)
    City Critters Key Concepts
    • All animals are remarkable
    • Humans have changed the natural environment. Some animals have adapted to this changed environment and reside in urban areas
    • Wild animals are different than domestic animals
    • Wild animals should be enjoyed from a distance so as not to disturb them
    • All animals (including humans) have similar needs – food, water, shelter, and appropriate social and physical environments
    • Our pets rely upon us to provide for all of the their needs
    • Backyards and Schoolyards for Wildlife can be created to develop wildlife-friendly areas.
    • Discovery of injured wildlife should be reported to a trusted adult who can then reach out to a local rehabilitator or shelter

    Kids for Critters Clubs

    Children participate in activities at their school throughout the school year. Children learn that one individual can make a difference, and working together we can change the world.

    This program is especially important because the members of the club become agents of change within their schools. Kids listen to other kids. The Kids for Critters model presents being kind to animals as fun and “cool.”

    Staff facilitate activities at Kids for Critters Clubs, providing direction and motivation for children as they complete activities related to animal issues. Kids have been involved in making posters to hang in their schools, collecting used towels and blankets for local humane societies, making dog biscuits and kitty herb pots, and preparing for Be Kind to Animals Week. Individual schools have done an assortment of other activities including creating pet care brochures, writing skits about rescued animals and making presentations to younger children in their schools.

    Kids for Critters engages children in three areas:

    • Personal choices – making choices for a softer footprint.
    • Helping our community – improving our community for all living creatures.
    • Helping the world – celebrating and saving our earth’s biodiversity.

    Kids for Critters have several different messages to impart on others:

    • Pet Care – Kids for Critters teach what it means to be a responsible pet guardian, including providing proper care and love for an animal’s entire life.
    • Humans and Other Animals – Kids can encourage other kids to investigate and question how animals are used in entertainment, including circuses, rodeos and television. These activities may be fun for some people, but they are definitely not fun for the animals.
    • We Can Make A Difference – Children get involved in activities to help animals – not only in their homes, but also in their communities. Kids can help animal shelters with activities such as collecting towels, creating cat toys or making dog biscuits. They can also help animals at home by creating backyards for wildlife.
  • Community Opportunities

    Special Events

    Community special events such as GreenFest provide a forum for sharing and teaching humane messages.

    The Detroit Zoo hosts Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo, a major pet adoption event (held twice a year) at which hundreds of dogs, cats and other domestic animals find new homes.

    Conferences and Meetings

    The DZS was selected as the hosting site for the 2013 Association of Professional Humane Educators (APHE) National Humane Education Conference. Humane educators from around the world convened to learn about current humane education issues. The two-day conference included presentations, round table discussions and networking opportunities.

    Members of the DZS Education Department regularly give humane education presentations throughout the community. Recent presentations were given at the Michigan Science Teachers Association Annual Conference, the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education Annual Conference, the Michigan Recreation and Park Association Annual Conference and the Great Lakes Detroit Bioneers Conference, to name a few.

    Future assemblies are in development, inviting animal welfare experts to participate in providing professional development and public lectures.

    Humane Collaborations 

    We are working towards establishing relationships with other humane organizations locally, nationally and internationally to verify program agenda and content and to discuss partnership opportunities. For example, we’re currently collaborating with the Humane Society of Huron Valley and the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services to discuss humane education programming and opportunities. We’ve also have a year-round gardening project, the Humane Education Horticulture Program, with a group of teen boys at Children’s Village, a local residential treatment facility. The students learn about native plants, organic gardening, creating wildlife-friendly habitats and how to incorporate eco-friendly items into the landscape. Additionally, we work to instill reverence and respect for the wildlife that’s encountered in and around the garden through photography and citizen science projects.

     Legislation

    The DZS works diligently to decrease the number of animals being kept in inhumane conditions. Through the DZS’s ongoing efforts, stricter regulations are now in place governing exotic pet ownership in Michigan and elsewhere.

    Community special events such as Earth Day provide a forum for sharing and teaching humane messages.

    The Detroit Zoo hosts Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo, a major pet adoption event held twice a year at which hundreds of dogs, cats and other domestic animals find new homes.

    Conferences and Meetings

    The Detroit Zoological Society (DZS) was honored to be selected by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums to host its 2001 Central Workshop Conference in recognition of the DZS’s position at the forefront of humane animal care. The conference theme “Animal Welfare 911” brought together a wide variety of organizations and individuals concerned with animal welfare and animal rights issues, providing a professional forum for critical conversations.

    Members of the DZS Education Department regularly give humane education presentations throughout the community, including at the Michigan Science Teachers Association Annual Conference, the Michigan Alliance for Environmental and Outdoor Education Annual Conference, the Michigan Recreation and Park Association Annual Conference, the Great Lakes Bioneers Conference, the Henry Ford Community College Earth Day Event, Green Street Fair in Plymouth and the Royal Oak Public Library Think Green Series.

    Future assemblies are in development, inviting animal welfare experts to participate in providing professional development and public lectures.

    Humane Collaborations

    We are working towards establishing relationships with other humane organizations locally, nationally and internationally to verify program agenda and content and to discuss partnership opportunities.  For example, we’re currently collaborating with the Michigan Humane Society and the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services to discuss humane education programming and opportunities.  We’ve also have a year-round gardening project, the Humane Education Horticulture Program, with a group of teens at Children’s Village.  The students learn about native plants, organic gardening, creating wildlife-friendly habitats and how to incorporate eco-friendly items into the landscape.  Additionally, we work to instill reverence and respect for the wildlife that’s encountered in and around the garden through photography and citizen science projects.

    Legislation

    The DZS works diligently to decrease the number of animals being kept in inhumane conditions. Through the DZS’s ongoing efforts, stricter regulations are now in place governing exotic pet ownership in Michigan and elsewhere.

  • Animal Showboat to Animal Lifeboat

    The Detroit Zoological Society has produced a film by Academy Award winner Sue Marx.  “From Animal Showboat to Animal Lifeboat” illustrates the many ways animals in entertainment are exploited and suggests a different course for the future.  This film won an Emmy and was co-written and co-produced by DZS Executive Director Ron Kagan.  This film is available to view in its entirety on the Zoo’s website.