Canadian zoos are in fierce competition to post the cutest animal photos ever
If you love to open your Instagram feed and see an abundance of adorable animal photos, all you have to do is follow one of Canada's many zoos.
Across the country, Canadian zoos use their Instagram feeds to post absolutely adorable photos of all kinds of exotic animals, so it's no wonder their accounts have no trouble racking up tens of thousands of followers.
But while posting photos of lovable baby pandas may seem like an incredibly smart marketing strategy, director of marketing, sales and communications for the Calgary Zoo Alison Archambault said their Instagram feed is actually more about educating than advertising.
"We're a conservation organization first and a zoo second," she said, adding that the Calgary Zoo is Canada's most visited zoo so they don't exactly need the help.
"Our strategy isn’t to bring people," she said. "We care more about educating people about conservation."
The Calgary Zoo regularly posts lengthy captions with photos and videos to provide educational information along with the adorable faces.
It's #InternationalRedPandaDay! These little bamboo-eaters are listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red list, with less than 10,000 individuals in the wild. They face threats of fragmentation due to deforestation. But you can help save red pandas by choosing Forest Stewardship Council certified products made from recycled paper or by visiting the Calgary Zoo! ♻️🐾
Archambault said educating people about animal conservation is more important than ever, as climate change continues to affect endangered species and it's important for people to understand what's at stake.
"We're in the middle of a global mass extinction and the zoos have never been more relevant," she said. "It's a spot where you can see many species that no longer exist in the wild."
Meanwhile Olivia Weaver, marketing associate for the Toronto Zoo, said their Instagram strategy is more of a balance between fun and educational.
"Toronto Zoo, along with many other accredited zoos around the world, are focused on caring for some of the world’s most endangered species and participating in several conservation breeding programs," she said.
"It’s our job to tell that story, and by telling that story, versus just focusing on ticket sales, we hope that people want to visit in the future."
Weaver said social media is a great tool to help highlight the zoo and the 5,000 animals in their care.
"It has the ability to make you feel like you’re right here at the Toronto Zoo while scrolling through Instagram from your desk or walking down the street," she said.
Weaver also said the most rewarding part of her job is seeing positive feedback on Instagram posts or people tagging their friends and family wanting to share stories with others.
She said the social media community they've built allows them to propel important conservation stories to larger audiences and to shed light on some of the plights these species are facing around the world.
"We’re looking to educate our audience about the work we do, to earn their loyalty, their trust, and ultimately, inspire that zoo visit," she said.
"We also feel the responsibility to spread messaging about the conservation of many of the species in our care, in hopes to spark change in how people live their daily lives. We want to captivate those who see our posts to not only find it cute, but to also take action, where and when they can."
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