Zoo News: The Complexity of Communication is Deceptively Challenging

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It seems so simple, but communication can be one of the most difficult aspects of life today. Whether it is the written or spoken word, the question remains, did it reach the target and did they understand what was being communicated. Regardless of the target audience, ensuring what has been communicated isn’t always that easy. Even when information is communicated multiple times it can often go unheard, especially when it comes to preparing for the future.

Speaking with a local contractor last week, I was surprised when I mentioned the plans for the flood mitigation phase that will run along the river through Roosevelt Park and around the zoo, it seemed he was completely unaware. My guess is that people are so busy with their day-to-day lives that it is easy to block out information that doesn’t seem to impact them directly, but unfortunately for us, it has been difficult to think about anything else.

Since this process began, there have been public meetings and stories in the news, yet only a handful of citizens understand what is about to occur. Work may begin later this fall or early next spring, but it is coming. The Zoo as well as the Park District have been making plans based on the information, we receive but does the community that uses these facilities really understand its impact or will they be shocked and upset, feeling they were not informed of the coming changes. I’m sure the messaging for the project seems unimportant to most in the big scheme of things and along with these articles, the zoo will continue to do its part to spread the word.

Imminent changes ahead include the transfer of the zebras and bongo due to projected construction in those spaces. If all goes according to plan, next year will see the removal of the existing levy to prepare for the construction of the wall. When this work begins, a large part of Roosevelt Park becomes a construction zone with limited access and use. As the project enters the zoo, we lose one of the primate habitats, the concession stand, Outreach Animal building and the north side of the giraffe exhibit, hence the reason for constructing the African Plains building. This work will block all access to the bridge over to the Farm and North Trails and eventually lead to a new footprint for the zoo utilizing the land from the visitor center to the pickleball parking lot, creating new animal habitats.

The world today can be overwhelming, and this may not be a blip on most folks’ radar. We will strive to do everything possible to continue communicating the plans in hopes people will hear the message. Communication is a challenge whether it is a small group, a community, or a nation; however the Zoo and Park District is committed to making every effort possible to prepare our users for the coming changes. Nat Turner once said, “Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity,” so bridge builders we will be.

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