“When we made the decision to temporarily close the Detroit Zoo
and Belle Isle Nature Center due to the public health
crisis, we knew that presented an opportunity to reach our
audiences in different ways,” said Diane Miller, chief
program officer for the Detroit Zoological Society.
The experienced education staff took their knack for lesson
planning and went virtual, launching daily Facebook Lives from
their living rooms on topics ranging from the Partula nodosa snail
to the Detroit Zoo’s anaerobic digester.
“At first, we started doing one or two live lessons a day,”
Miller said. “After receiving great feedback from the community,
we started doing three a day Monday through Friday.”
The Virtual Vitamin Z videos, which are also available on YouTube and detroitzoo.org,
were just the beginning. During the shutdown, the education
staff also launched an online
allows teachers and families to search for lessons based on
grade level and subject.
From flamingoes to wolves to native wildlife — there is a topic
for everyone. Most lessons also include an activity that
families can do together using supplies at home.
“We really wanted to provide resources for people that were
informative and engaging to especially help parents who were
attempting distance learning with their children,” said Miller.
Even though the Detroit Zoo has since reopened to visitors by
reservation, the education team is still embracing this new
digital pivot — working on Summer Virtual Ventures and producing
longer lesson plans for people throughout Michigan.