Dr Christoph Schwitzer

Blog: Good zoos and aquariums need to demonstrate leadership more than ever

Posted: 10th June, 2021

Dr Christoph Schwitzer, CEO of Dublin Zoo and Chair of BIAZA Council, launches BIAZA's brand new blog series calling for zoos and aquariums to show leadership in the face of adversity.

I have often been struck by the breadth of work and interests of my fellow BIAZA members. It would seem that wherever there is an issue, a challenge or an observation to be had, a good zoo or aquarium has something really important to say. Whether that is about equality of access to nature, people’s wellbeing and health, the way we teach our children about the natural world, or the operations of global industries.

But this really should come as no surprise. As a conservationist I have chosen to work in zoos because the intersection between society and the natural world is manifested in the work of good zoos and aquariums. At my own institution, Dublin Zoo, a lot of our thinking and planning goes into how we make sure that we serve our purpose to save wildlife and inspire a passion for nature, while at the same time providing a great day out for people of all ages. Or how we might reach more schools in our education work. Or how, with the pandemic raging, we might work with partners in the community to secure our future and the future of our conservation work.

I believe it is important that we do not keep these conversations to ourselves. As zoos and aquariums, we offer a unique perspective and unique expertise to share. If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is just how relevant our organisations are to the wider society. That is why I am proud to write the inaugural piece in a new blog series hosted by BIAZA.

I believe that as good zoos and aquariums, if we want to be conservation organisations of national and global impact, we have a responsibility to speak out often, and with force and conviction, when it comes to issues that concern us. This takes courage and leadership. I have learnt early on that loudly proclaiming a point of view does not always make it the right point of view – but if we are able to have those conversations, we grow as individuals and organisations.

BIAZA is a powerful community because our differences and diversity make us strong. Our association is a big tent with diverse people, organisation types and opinions. Harnessing that diversity, that wealth of experience, is what makes us leaders in society.

I hope this will be a space for sharing some of our unique perspectives, sharing our successes as well as the lessons we have learned. I hope, too, that this blog will challenge us all. Perhaps at times it will even make for uncomfortable reading. That is important. As organisations and individuals, we must not shy away from the challenges, but embrace them.

BIAZA, under the leadership of Jo Judge, is now looking towards a new future. As we hope to see the worst of the coronavirus pandemic pass in our region of the world, we must embrace the role of good zoos and aquariums as leaders and speak up and speak out about local, national and global issues of concern to us.

Dr Christoph Schwitzer

Dr Christoph Schwitzer is the CEO of Dublin Zoo and the Chair of BIAZA Council

All blogs reflect the views of their author and are not a reflection of BIAZA's positions. 

BIAZA’s new blog series is looking for new contributions, if you have an idea please email [email protected]