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 (ACE) for Wildlife Network

The ACE for Wildlife Network is a network of 20 AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums in a seven-state northern region of the US which leverages the strengths and diverse perspectives of our partner organizations to accomplish our missions through integrating empathy into our work. The network began in January 2019 with the Creating Change Symposium: How Empathy Can Advance Your Mission and gathered for a second symposium in February 2020, the Creating Change Symposium: Empathy in Action.

ACE for Wildlife brings together like-minded professionals to strengthen how accredited institutions create, use and evaluate practices to foster empathy for wildlife leading to conservation actions. We envision a conservation-minded society motivated by empathy towards all life.

Learn more about the ACE for Wildlife Network


Building Organization Capacity to Foster Empathy for Wildlife Granting Program

Woodland Park Zoo facilitates a grant program to support AZA-accredited organizations 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.

Learn about our current funding opportunity

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

2023 RFP Eligibility: AZA-accredited organizations in the following states: Washington, Alaska, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota or Wisconsin.


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 Fostering Empathy for Animals Using Research-Based Best Practices or the Woodland Park Zoo Empathy Best Practices Framework documents written by Woodland Park Zoo staff in 2019, 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.


Stay Connected

Email us at empathy@zoo.org or visit the ACE for Wildlife Website.

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.

Humane Certification
Seattle Parks & Recreation
Association of Zoos & Aquariums

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