by Judy Mann
In a bold new step, driven by our desire to really make a difference, uShaka Sea World has ventured beyond animal exhibits into the challenging realm of climate change – more specifically what people can do about the problem of climate change.
As visitors wander through the ‘EcoHouse’, an innovative new exhibit situated at the entrance to the aquarium, a friendly penguin invites visitors to explore easy ways to reduce their energy use and save money at home. From a full sized geyser and solar panel, to a quirky woman in the fridge, interactive electricity panels, flushing toilets and flowing showers and much more – the exhibit attracts attention and challenges us to action. The exhibit was designed by a group of passionate conservationists and enthusiastic technicians, with a great deal of innovation and a very small budget!
Related: 8th International Aquarium Congress: Internationally Renowned Scientists to Speak / Packing for the International Aquarium Congress / Interview with Dr Dave Gibson, MD, National Marine Aquarium
Most people think that climate change is boring – ocean acidification, sea level rise, warmer temperatures and big storms – the topic abounds with doom and gloom. Unfortunately rather than galvanising action, bad news stories tend to turn people off, feeling that the problem is so big that none of us can really make a difference. The EcoHouse addresses this serious problem in a more constructive light hearted way. The penguin icon links human actions to penguins and gives visitors practical suggestions – using simple financial and ecological sense – which they can easily do at home. At the end of the exhibit visitors have an opportunity to make a ‘Promise to the Penguins’ and commit to making one change in their daily lives to help reduce their carbon footprint.
Our oceans are under threat from a wide range of impacts – if we want to save our oceans and the amazing life that they contain, we all need to make some changes in our daily lives. The uShaka Sea World EcoHouse helps to empower people to take action, so that they return home inspired and motivated to help our planet. To make sure that we are achieving our goals, we have initiated a research programme which will use the Penguin Promises postcards to assess the impact which the EcoHouse has on guests.