Empathy is a stimulated emotional state that relies on the ability to perceive, understand, and care about the experiences or perspectives of another person or animal



Fostering Empathy

Empathy is a powerful emotion that drives our connection with those around us. As a skill that people are born with, empathy can be developed, strengthened and reinforced throughout our lives. Empathy is also an important driver for positive social change and motivates people to take caring action towards animals and nature. Here at Woodland Park Zoo, we believe that fostering empathy for animals is a powerful tool for empowering our guests and the community to make conservation a priority in their lives.





Empathy in Action

We integrate empathy practices into our programming. Whether onsite or virtual, we strive to use empathy practices to inspire conservation action. To understand our approach to integrating empathy into Woodland Park Zoo’s programming and messaging, explore our resources at the bottom of this page.


Advancing Conservation through Empathy for Wildlife (ACE for Wildlife) Network

Facilitated and staffed by Woodland Park Zoo, the ACE for Wildlife Network creates and shares effective practices to foster empathy for animals and people, leading to conservation actions. The Network began in January 2019 with the Creating Change Symposium: How Empathy Can Advance Your Mission and has grown to include 27 Partner Organizations from AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums across the US and another 130 individual Affiliates from around the world. The ACE for Wildlife Network provides a variety of ways for its participants to share and learn about promoting empathy for animals and people, including events, resource libraries, and more. For more information or questions, email empathy@zoo.org.

Learn more about ACE for Wildlife and discover how we can help you make a difference in conservation


Building Organization Capacity to Foster Empathy for Wildlife Granting Program

Woodland Park Zoo facilitates a grant program to support the 20 AZA-accredited organizations in Alaska, Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, Washington and Wisconsin in their efforts to plan, build and/or expand programs aimed at advancing empathy for animals and wildlife. The objective of this grant opportunity is for recipients to develop the resources and expertise necessary to increase the impact of their empathy practices and programs. For more information or questions, email empathygrants@zoo.org.

Past Funding Opportunities

Learn more about the first round of funding

Learn more about the second round of funding

Learn more about the third round of funding

Learn more about the fourth round of funding


Empathy Collaborative

The Empathy Collaborative is a three-year project working in partnership with south Seattle communities and Antioch University Seattle to co-design opportunities for youth and families. The purpose of this work is to develop co-created, culturally relevant, empathy focused programming that is responsive to community interest and priorities by building long term, authentic relationships with communities that the zoo seeks to better serve.





To cite the Best Practices document or tools listed on the MECAP Project Page, please cite the link and authors listed on the MECAP Project Description.

To cite Woodland Park Zoo’s Empathy Wheel for Audience Engagement document written by Woodland Park Zoo staff in 2023, we recommend you cite them with Woodland Park Zoo as the author and use the current link you accessed them with.

To cite The Case for Empathy, please cite author Kathryn Owen Consulting, 2019 and the current link you accessed it with.

Our Mission

Woodland Park Zoo saves wildlife and inspires everyone to make conservation a priority in their lives.

Land Acknowledgment

Woodland Park Zoo recognizes that these are the lands of the Tribal signatories of the Treaty of Point Elliott. We acknowledge their stewardship of this place continues to this day and that it is our responsibility to join them to restore the relationship with the living world around us.

5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle, WA 98103   |  206.548.2500  |   zooinfo@zoo.org

Association of Zoos & Aquariums
Seattle Parks & Recreation
Humane Certification