As a proud member of the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, our accrediting organization, we at the Tennessee Aquarium proudly lend our support to the statement on social and racial justice, inclusion and equity expressed by its Board of Directors in response to the current crisis of racial injustice facing our nation.
As a diverse organization that serves diverse communities, both locally and globally, we see this not as a political issue, but as a humanitarian one. The safety and well-being of our guests, community, employees and volunteers concerns all of us. We believe the diversity of human experience a gift to be celebrated, respected, and shared. Our mission to “connect people with nature and empower them to make informed decisions about water and wildlife” also serves as reminder that to achieve this, we must equally care about the human life that is connected to the natural world.
Keith Sanford, President & CEO
Statement of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Board of Directors
On Social and Racial Justice, Inclusion and Equity
Adopted June 2, 2020
The killing of George Floyd is shockingly and disturbingly evil. And Ahmaud Arbery. And Breonna Taylor. And Eric Garner. And on and on. It is often said that the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good people to do nothing. The evil behind these tragedies is grounded in privilege, and in prejudice and callous indifference toward Black people and Black lives. It must end, so good people and organizations must act with much greater urgency and intention.
We share the outrage over these senseless killings and stand in solidarity with people of color and communities who are struggling to be heard and yearning to be safe. We recommit to eliminating all aspects of brutality, racism, and injustice that persist in our world, our nations, our communities, and our profession; to listening; to learning; to celebrating, supporting, and protecting human diversity as passionately as we do the diversity in nature.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums envisions a world where all people respect, value, and conserve wildlife and wild places. That vision says “all people,” so to achieve it we must create a world where Black people are safe and welcomed in our communities, our member facilities, in nature, and the field of conservation.
Our 240 member organizations aspire to be welcoming and peaceful places, equally accessible, so that all may enjoy and learn about the planet’s diversity. We revel in the differences we find in the natural world and the opportunity to present those differences to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, gender or class. At this precarious moment, we are asking our members to reflect on recent events, to listen even more intently to their communities, to listen and support their employees of color, to speak out, to act peacefully, and inspire peaceful action in others. Doing nothing, or even little, will allow evil to continue to triumph.