Zoos are places where people can see, learn about, and connect with wild animals from different parts of the world. Zoos can also play a vital role in conservation, education, research, and recreation. However, not all zoos are created equal. Some zoos may have poor conditions, low standards, or limited resources that affect their ability to fulfil their potential.
Zoodom is a different kind of zoo. It is the National Zoological Park of the Dominican Republic, a public institution that operates under the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources.
Zoodom was founded in 1975 with the aim of creating a modern zoo that meets the highest international standards of animal welfare, management, education, research, conservation, design, security, administration, communication, marketing, tourism, recreation, culture, and social responsibility.
Zoodom is located in Santo Domingo, the capital city of the Dominican Republic, a Caribbean nation that shares the island of Hispaniola with Haiti. The Dominican Republic is known for its rich history, culture, biodiversity, natural beauty, and economic development. However, it also faces many challenges such as poverty, inequality, corruption, crime, environmental degradation, and climate change.
Zoodom is more than just a zoo. It is a center of education and research that contributes to the development of the Dominican Republic. It is also a place of fun and joy for millions of visitors every year. In this article, we will explore how Zoodom helps education and research in the Dominican Republic through its mission, vision, programs, activities, projects, partnerships, and benefits for foster youth.
Zoodom’s Mission and Vision
Zoodom’s mission is to promote the conservation of biodiversity through education, research, and recreation. Its vision is to be recognized as a leading institution in zoological management, education, research, and conservation at national and international levels.
To achieve its mission and vision, Zoodom has four strategic objectives:
- To maintain and improve the welfare and health of its animal collections and their habitats.
- To offer educational programs and activities that foster awareness, knowledge, and appreciation of biodiversity and environmental issues among visitors, students, teachers, and communities.
- To conduct and support scientific research on its animal collections and their natural environments and participate in national and international collaborations for conservation.
- To provide recreational opportunities and services that enhance the visitor experience and satisfaction and generate income for the institution.
Zoodom’s Educational Programs and Activities
Zoodom offers various educational opportunities for visitors, students, teachers, and communities. Its educational programs and activities are designed to align with the national curriculum, the sustainable development goals, and the conservation priorities of the Dominican Republic. Some of the educational programs and activities that Zoodom offers are:
Visits and Tours
Zoodom provides guided and self-guided visits and tours for different age groups and interests. Visitors can explore the zoo’s 14 thematic areas that showcase more than 1,500 animals from over 250 species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. Visitors can also enjoy the zoo’s botanical garden which features more than 500 plant species, including native, exotic, medicinal, ornamental, and endangered plants.
Zoodom’s guided visits and tours are led by trained educators who explain the characteristics, behaviours, adaptations, threats, and conservation status of the animals and plants on display. They also answer questions and provide tips on how to protect biodiversity and the environment. Zoodom’s guided visits and tours are available for school groups, families, organizations, and special events.
Zoodom’s self-guided visits and tours allow visitors to explore the zoo at their own pace and according to their own interests. They can use maps, signs, labels, brochures, audio guides, mobile apps, and interactive exhibits to learn more about the animals and plants on display. They can also participate in quizzes, games, puzzles, and challenges that test their knowledge and skills.
Workshops and Courses
Zoodom organizes workshops and courses on topics such as animal behaviour, ecology, veterinary medicine, and conservation. These workshops and courses are aimed at enhancing the knowledge and skills of students, teachers, professionals, and enthusiasts who want to learn more about zoology, biology, environmental science, or related fields. Some of the workshops and courses that Zoodom offers are:
- Animal Behavior Workshop: This workshop teaches participants how to observe and record animal behavior using scientific methods and tools. Participants learn how to design and conduct ethograms, time budgets, behavioral sampling, and behavioral experiments. They also learn how to analyze and interpret behavioral data using statistics and graphs. This workshop is suitable for high school and university students who are interested in animal behavior or psychology.
- Ecology Course: This course introduces participants to the basic concepts and principles of ecology, the study of how organisms interact with each other and their environment. Participants learn about the levels of ecological organization, the factors that influence ecological processes, the types of ecosystems, the patterns of biodiversity distribution, the threats to biodiversity, and the strategies for conservation. This course is suitable for high school and university students who are interested in ecology or environmental science.
- Veterinary Medicine Workshop: This workshop gives participants a glimpse into the work of a zoo veterinarian. Participants learn about the anatomy, physiology, diseases, diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and welfare of zoo animals. They also learn about the tools and techniques used by zoo veterinarians such as physical examination, laboratory tests, radiography, ultrasound, endoscopy, surgery, anaesthesia, pharmacology, immunology, epidemiology, and biosecurity. This workshop is suitable for high school and university students who are interested in veterinary medicine or animal health.
- Conservation Course: This course covers the main concepts and issues of conservation biology and the science of protecting biodiversity. Participants learn about the causes and consequences of biodiversity loss, the methods for measuring and monitoring biodiversity, the criteria for prioritizing conservation actions, the approaches for managing and restoring habitats, the techniques for breeding and reintroducing endangered species, the policies for regulating and enforcing conservation laws, the challenges for balancing human needs and environmental values. This course is suitable for high school and university students who are interested in conservation biology or environmental management.
Outreach and Events
Zoodom conducts outreach programs and events in schools and communities to raise awareness and engagement on environmental issues. These outreach programs and events are designed to complement and reinforce the educational programs and activities that Zoodom offers at its facilities. Some of the outreach programs and events that Zoodom conducts are:
- Mobile Zoo: This program brings a selection of live animals and educational materials to schools and communities that are unable to visit the zoo. The mobile zoo team provides interactive presentations and demonstrations that teach participants about the animals’ characteristics, behaviors, adaptations, threats, and conservation status. The mobile zoo also allows participants to touch and interact with some of the animals under supervision and guidance.
- Environmental Education Campaigns: These campaigns are aimed at raising awareness and changing attitudes and behaviors on specific environmental issues that affect the Dominican Republic and the world. The campaigns use various media and methods such as posters, flyers, videos, radio, social media, workshops, contests, exhibitions, festivals, and parades to disseminate information and messages that inspire action and participation. Some of the environmental education campaigns that Zoodom has conducted are: “Save the Sea Turtles”, “Stop Plastic Pollution”, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, “Plant a Tree”, “Save Water”, “Save Energy”, “Protect the Coral Reefs”, “Say No to Illegal Wildlife Trade”.
- Special Days and Events: These days and events are organized to celebrate and commemorate important dates and occasions related to biodiversity and the environment. They are also designed to attract and entertain visitors with special activities and attractions that highlight the theme of the day or event. Some of the special days and events that Zoodom organizes are: “World Wildlife Day”, “Earth Day”, “World Environment Day”, “World Oceans Day”, “International Day of Biodiversity”, “World Animal Day”, “Halloween at Zoodom”, “Christmas at Zoodom”.
Zoodom’s Research Projects and Partnerships
Zoodom conducts research on its animal collections and participates in national and international collaborations for conservation. Its research projects and partnerships are aimed at advancing the scientific knowledge and understanding of biodiversity and its conservation. Some of the research projects and partnerships that Zoodom conducts and participates in are:
Animal Welfare and Health
Zoodom monitors and improves the welfare and health of its animals through scientific methods and veterinary care. It uses various indicators and measures such as behavior, physiology, morphology, nutrition, reproduction, genetics, immunology, parasitology, pathology, and pharmacology, to assess and enhance the well-being and health of its animals. It also implements preventive and curative treatments and interventions such as vaccinations, deworming, antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, analgesics, surgery, anesthesia, and euthanasia, to prevent and treat diseases and injuries in its animals.
Zoodom collaborates with national and international institutions such as universities, research centers, veterinary clinics, laboratories, zoos, aquariums, and wildlife sanctuaries, to share information and resources on animal welfare and health. It also participates in training programs and workshops on topics such as animal welfare assessment, veterinary medicine techniques, animal health management protocols, and zoonotic disease prevention.
Conservation Breeding and Reintroduction
Zoodom participates in conservation breeding programs and reintroduction projects for endangered species. It breeds and maintains populations of threatened animals in captivity with the aim of preserving their genetic diversity and increasing their numbers. It also reintroduces some of these animals into their natural habitats with the aim of restoring their ecological roles and functions. Some of the endangered species that Zoodom breeds and reintroduces are: Hispaniolan solenodon, Hispaniolan hutia, Hispaniolan parrot, Hispaniolan slider, rhinoceros iguana, Ricord’s iguana, West Indian manatee.
Zoodom cooperates with national and international institutions such as government agencies, non-governmental organizations, conservation groups, zoos, aquariums, wildlife parks, to coordinate and implement conservation breeding programs and reintroduction projects for endangered species. It also follows guidelines and standards such as the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, the CITES Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, the AZA Species Survival Plan, the EAZA European Endangered Species Programme, the WAZA Conservation Strategy.
Biodiversity Assessment and Monitoring
Zoodom contributes to biodiversity assessment and monitoring activities in the Dominican Republic and other regions. It collects and analyzes data on the distribution, abundance, diversity, and status of animals and plants in different habitats and ecosystems.
It also evaluates the impacts of human activities, climate change, invasive species, habitat loss, fragmentation, degradation, and restoration on biodiversity. Some of the biodiversity assessment and monitoring activities that Zoodom participates in are Rapid Biodiversity Assessment, Long-term Ecological Research, Global Biodiversity Information Facility, Living Planet Index, Biodiversity Indicators Partnership.
Zoodom works with national and international institutions such as government agencies, non-governmental organizations, research centers, universities, zoos, aquariums, and wildlife parks, to conduct and support biodiversity assessment and monitoring activities. It also shares its data and findings with the scientific community and the public through publications, reports, databases, websites, social media, workshops, conferences, seminars.
Zoodom’s Benefits for Foster Youth
Zoodom provides benefits for foster youth in the Dominican Republic through its programs and services. Foster youth are children and adolescents who have been placed in the care of a foster family or an institution by the state due to abuse, neglect, abandonment, or other reasons. Foster youth face many challenges such as trauma, instability, attachment issues, low self-esteem, poor academic performance, behavioral problems, social isolation, lack of support, limited opportunities.
Zoodom supports foster youth’s educational needs through scholarships, tutoring, mentoring, and career guidance. It also offers foster youth recreational opportunities such as free admission, special events, camps, and clubs. It also helps foster youth develop social and emotional skills such as self-esteem, resilience, empathy, and teamwork. Some of the benefits that Zoodom provides for foster youth are:
Zoodom supports foster youth’s educational needs through scholarships, tutoring, mentoring, and career guidance. It provides scholarships for foster youth who want to pursue higher education in zoology, biology, environmental science, or related fields. It also provides tutoring for foster youth who need academic assistance in subjects such as math, science, language, or history. It also provides mentoring for foster youth who need personal guidance and advice on topics such as life skills, goals, values, or challenges. It also provides career guidance for foster youth who want to explore their interests and options for their future professions.
Zoodom offers foster youth recreational opportunities such as free admission, special events, camps, and clubs. It grants free admission for foster youth who want to visit the zoo and enjoy its attractions and facilities. It also organizes special events for foster youth such as birthday parties, celebrations, awards ceremonies, or graduations. It also hosts camps for foster youth such as summer camps, winter camps, or weekend camps where they can participate in fun and educational activities such as games, crafts, experiments, or animal encounters. It also runs clubs for foster youth such as photography club, art club, science club, or conservation club where they can learn new skills and hobbies related to the zoo and its animals.
Social and Emotional Development
Zoodom helps foster youth develop social and emotional skills such as self-esteem, resilience, empathy, and teamwork. It fosters self-esteem by providing positive feedback and recognition for foster youth’s achievements and efforts. It fosters resilience by providing support and coping strategies for foster youth’s difficulties and challenges. It fosters empathy by providing opportunities and experiences for foster youth to understand and appreciate the feelings and perspectives of others, especially the animals and plants in the zoo. It fosters teamwork by providing opportunities and challenges for foster youth to work and cooperate with others, such as their peers, mentors, educators, or zoo staff.
Zoodom is more than just a zoo. It is a center of education and research that contributes to the development of the Dominican Republic. It is also a place of fun and joy for millions of visitors every year. Zoodom helps education and research in the Dominican Republic through its mission, vision, programs, activities, projects, partnerships, and benefits for foster youth. Zoodom promotes conservation of biodiversity through education, research, and recreation. Zoodom offers various educational opportunities for visitors, students, teachers, and communities. Zoodom conducts and supports scientific research on its animal collections and their natural environments and participates in national and international collaborations for conservation. Zoodom provides benefits for foster youth in the Dominican Republic through its programs and services.
If you are interested in learning more about Zoodom or supporting its mission, you can visit its website, follow its social media accounts, donate to its cause, or visit the zoo in person. You can also contact Zoodom by phone, email, or mail. Zoodom welcomes your feedback, suggestions, questions, or comments.
Thank you for reading this article. We hope you enjoyed it and learned something new. We also hope you will visit Zoodom soon and see for yourself how it helps education and research in the Dominican Republic.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What are the opening hours and admission fees of Zoodom?
Ans: Zoodom is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is closed on Mondays and holidays. The admission fees are 100 Dominican pesos (about 2 US dollars) for adults and 50 Dominican pesos (about 1 US dollar) for children under 12 years old. There are discounts for groups of 10 or more people.
Q2. What are some of the animals and plants that I can see at Zoodom?
Ans: Zoodom has more than 1,500 animals from over 250 species, including mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish, and invertebrates. Some of the animals that you can see at Zoodom are: lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards, bears, wolves, monkeys, apes, elephants, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, hippos, camels, deer, antelopes, kangaroos, koalas, pandas, otters, penguins, flamingos, parrots, toucans, eagles, owls, crocodiles, alligators, turtles, snakes, lizards, frogs, fish, sharks, rays, octopuses, jellyfish, corals, butterflies, beetles, spiders. Zoodom also has more than 500 plant species, including native, exotic, medicinal, ornamental, and endangered plants. Some of the plants that you can see at Zoodom are palms, orchids, bromeliads, cacti, succulents, ferns, mosses, lilies, roses, hibiscus, jasmine, bougainvillea, mangoes, bananas, coconuts, pineapples.
Q3. How can I participate in Zoodom’s educational programs and activities?
Ans: You can participate in Zoodom’s educational programs and activities by booking a visit or a tour online, registering for a workshop or a course online, joining an outreach program or an event online, or by contacting Zoodom’s education department by phone or email.
Q4. How can I get involved in Zoodom’s research projects and partnerships?
Ans: You can get involved in Zoodom’s research projects and partnerships by applying for a research internship or a volunteer position online, submitting a research proposal or a collaboration request online, accessing Zoodom’s data and publications online, or contacting Zoodom’s research department by phone or email.
Q5. How can I support Zoodom’s mission and vision?
Ans: You can support Zoodom’s mission and vision by visiting the zoo and enjoying its attractions and facilities, following its social media accounts and sharing its information and messages, donating to its cause and sponsoring its animals or projects, by becoming a member or a friend of Zoodom and enjoying its benefits and privileges, by adopting an animal or a plant from Zoodom and receiving a certificate and a photo, by volunteering at Zoodom and helping with its operations and activities, by giving feedback, suggestions, questions, or comments to Zoodom and helping it improve its services and performance.