Toronto Zoo offers a curriculum based teacher activity guide for grade 1-7 students about its captive breeding and release programs for mammals, specifically the black-footed ferret and Vancouver Island marmot. Topics such as conservation, endangered species, habitat and the food chain are discussed in an interactive and interesting manner. More detailed topics such as genetic diversity and the effect of population bottlenecks on small populations are explained in the form of a game. Students play out the black-footed ferret history equipped with ‘genes’ in the form of coloured marbles, and see how some of the ‘genes’ are lost when the population drops to a very low number.
The guide is available to school children, community groups and businesses interested in learning about conservation. As the black-footed ferret and Vancouver Island marmot are both native to Canada, this program will assist in the national recovery efforts by increasing awareness and support.
Toronto Zoo has produced educational pamphlets, posters, and magnets emphasizing the importance of endangered species conservation. These are used by volunteers in the Education department to reach out to the public. A video of black-footed ferret kits aging in their first thirty days can be viewed online here: