The new interactive exhibit nurturing future conservationists
A new Ranger Station at the Santa Barbara Zoo is designed to foster deeper connections to nature for visitors.
Kate – one of the 'rangers' here at the Santa Barbara Zoo – is showing these young visitors some animal skulls.
It’s part of the newly opened immersive exhibit – which is designed to look like a real-life ranger station, complete with wooden roof and zoo staff – like Kate – who are wearing khaki rangers hats and vests.
"It's really just a hub that we created to try to promote our conservation work, especially here in Southern California," explained Kevin Nuss, the director of marketing at the Santa Barbara Zoo.
"It's filled with all sort of fun facts and rangers in character teaching about local species and work that the zoo does," said Nuss.
The intention of more immersive experiences at the Zoo – like their Australian walkabout exhibit which is nearby, said Nuss, is to create connections between the public and wildlife – and to inspire the next generation of conservationists.
"Our long-term strategy for the zoo going forward is to be as immersive and interactive as possible," he said.
These young guests are exploring the mini trails and spotting animals and wildlife, and there’s also an opportunity to learn about National Parks, how to build a birdhouse - and even camping etiquette.
"All the little paths they can explore and the little animals they can find on the paths, it's really exciting," said Julie Barnes, the Vice President of Animal Care and Health at the zoo. "The kids are really loving it."
"It's so much to connect them with their local environment and the best way to do that is to immerse them in that experience and that's what this is providing for them," said Barnes.
So if you can’t get to one of the big national and state parks to visit a real Ranger Station – this is a way to have an outdoor discovery adventure – a little closer to home.