It Fits to a (Mana)tee:

Cultural Fusion, Year of the River, and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

BY LYNDSAY PLEMMONS, Assistant Manager of Marketing at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

what: Jacksonville Manatee Festival

when: November 14, 2015, 10am–4pm

where: Jacksonville Zoo & Gardens


Manatee Festival logoThe word “inspiration” is mentioned frequently, especially when talking about important causes like animal conservation. Cultural Fusion and Year of the River have opened our eyes to the idea that everyone becomes inspired in different ways. In many cities, zoos, museums, and cultural groups end up competing over the same customer. Through Cultural Fusion Jacksonville, we are working to benefit each other through collaborative events and cross promotion to highlight our common theme: Year of the River. We at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens saw this theme as an opportunity to share our conservation efforts, many of which impact the St. Johns River and surrounding areas, through some of our special events.

zoo245476_ManateeFest_DigitalAd1920x1080_rsgAny special event at the Zoo can be educational; that’s the easy part. We are brimming with science-minded conservationists who are passionate and involved in numerous local and global efforts. Educating guests on our efforts is great, and we’ll never stop. There’s just one problem: that only promotes OUR efforts and interests. So where does Cultural Fusion come in? How can we take a special event, centered on something the Zoo is passionate about, and incorporate other cultural institutions? The answer is to open our minds and go beyond our usual routine. As it turns out, it’s a lot of fun!

Shark 381On November 14, 2015, the Zoo will host the inaugural Jacksonville Manatee Festival, our premier YOTR event. The St. Johns Riverkeeper, Florida Fish and Wildlife, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), MOSH, and the Save the Manatee Club are some of the conservation organizations planning to send representatives. In the spirit of Cultural Fusion, the Festival will feature manatee mural art, coastal-themed art from local school children, and manatee art from girl scouts. What started as a typical educational event has blossomed into an interesting collaboration of art and science that will, hopefully, inspire festival guests and cultivate a passion for conserving Jacksonville’s manatee population in the St. Johns River.

For an animal keeper, it might be statistics on the plight of manatees in our local waterways that drives them to get involved. For a child, it might be learning about manatees while putting together an arts and crafts project. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens’ involvement with Cultural Fusion has prompted us to step outside of our science-driven comfort zone and explore new ways to inspire our guests.