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Wild Cat Education Projects paw
Zoo ResearchPoint Defiance Zoo & Aquarium's
Southeast Asia Wild Cat Education Initiative

Since 2004, this initiative has provided support to educators delivering wild cat conservation messages in both North America and Thailand.

Goals of the Initiative

  • Teach ecosystem and biodiversity concepts as they relate to the wild cats found in Southeast Asia.
  • Demonstrate the role of science in understanding and protecting endangered species.
  • Enhance wild cat conservation and decrease poaching activities among people living in communities near wild cat habitat by promoting a positive attitude and sense of pride and stewardship towards wild cats.
This ongoing project is a joint effort between Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Clouded Leopard Project, and PeunPa. This initiative creates and funds the distribution of educational materials and community outreach in the region surrounding Thailand 's Khao Yai National Park. These materials and outreach efforts enable educators to teach students and adults about wild cats and other Southeast Asian wildlife and the importance of ecosystem conservation.

Outreach Team Many of Khao Yai's wildlife species are threatened or endangered due to the significant environmental challenges threatening the region. Illegal subsistence and commercial hunting are considerable threats to wildlife; logging and out-of-control agricultural fires also cause extensive habitat damage on a regular basis. Because members of the communities bordering the park perform most of these non-sustainable practices, conservationists working in the region recognize that long-term conservation of Thailand's biodiversity will only be successful with the cooperation and participation of these people. As a result, PeunPa educators have launched environmental education programs targeting people in communities directly impacting Khao Yai resources. The long-term goal of their programs is to encourage people to adopt sustainable development practices that will protect the forest while providing economic benefits to local communities.

This initiative provides support for educators to deliver wild cat and ecosystem conservation messages and provide environmental education support for schools and adults in the Khao Yai region. Educators for Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium have written a Southeast Asia Wild Cat Curriculum guide that has undergone assessment during a teachers' workshop in Khao Yai and will soon be printed and dispersed to schools in three communities served by PeunPa's outreach team. After assessing materials in this pilot distribution we hope to expand distribution to schools throughout the region and to other communities in Thailand and other parts of Southeast Asia.

The next phase of the project is the creation of a Thai/English storybook that tells the story of the wild cat field work taking place in the park. The book will emphasize the role of science in wildlife conservation. This book is in production and will be published in late 2008.

Funding for this project is made possible by generous grants from the American Association of Zoo Keepers, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, and The Clouded Leopard Project.