Back in 2020, in response to society’s growing awareness of social justice issues, we established an employee-driven diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion (DEAI) committee to create positive change at the Zoo and in our community.
Last year, our DEAI committee launched its first public initiative and invited our staff, volunteers and community to celebrate Pride Week by taking part in a “spirit week.” In the first of many planned DEAI celebrations of the year, we are inviting our community to celebrate Black History Month with us through a variety of events, celebrations and activities.
We are pleased to highlight several black-owned restaurants and food trucks at the Zoo throughout the month of February! Staff, volunteers, guests and everyone in our community are invited to support these businesses (and indulge in some yummy food) on the following days:
All food trucks will be located in the South Zoo parking lot in front of the Nyami Nyami River Lodge. Limited seating will be available for your convenience while eating. Outside food is not allowed inside of the Zoo. Those who are inside the Zoo and wish to eat outside and re-enter should exit through the Guest Services Office, get a re-entry stamp, eat and then go back into the Zoo.
In addition, throughout February, Zoo Teens will have interpretation carts around the Zoo with an activity for guests to participate in called Kindness Rocks. Guests, staff and volunteers can paint a rock to pledge kindness, stand against bullying and seek inclusion. Eventually, we will build a Pole of Peace to place the rocks around to be a visual reminder of inclusion.
Internally, the Zoo’s DEAI committee will be sending staff and volunteers weekly educational messages to provoke courageous conversations about diversity and inclusion. Love City Café, a black-owned business, provided coffee for Zoo employees during our monthly meeting.
The DEAI committee’s mission statement is as follows:
Brevard Zoo is dedicated to sharing the joy of nature to help wildlife and people thrive. As a cornerstone of this mission, we embrace diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion. We believe that these qualities foster valuable talents, perspectives and personality traits that make the Zoo a stronger, more welcoming organization.
Employees, volunteers and guests of all races, religions, sexual orientations, gender identities, exceptionalities, ages and nationalities have the right to feel safe, respected and valued. We reject racism, religious discrimination, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, ageism and xenophobia. Simply stated, we will not tolerate acts of hate.
We acknowledge the complex nature of this journey, and we are committed to demonstrating continuous self-reflection, engaging in courageous conversations and devoting the resources required to create transformative change both in our Zoo and beyond.
We hope you can join in on the fun this month, and we look forward to hosting more DEAI celebrations in the future. Stay tuned!