We happen to be members of the Wildlife Conservation Society, which, along with supporting conservation efforts around the world, also oversees five zoos and aquariums in the New York City area. Normally, due to its location and size, we tend to head to the Bronx Zoo for our animal watching. But, today, we met up with some friends at the Central Park Zoo, a zoo I have never been to, and a very different zoo in its own right.
The Central Park Zoo has a very different children’s zoo area than the Bronx Zoo, and it was really cool to walk around through that area and watch as the kids explored the different exhibits and laughed and smiled at the fun design that exists there.
In addition, the zoo itself is much smaller. My wife likened it to Disneyland vs. Disneyworld, with the Central Park Zoo being much more like Disneyland. It was easily walkable, with only twenty or so exhibits. There were some similarities (a sea lion pool, for instance), and some differences (a really great penguins exhibit, and a snow leopard setup that was really nicely designed, despite the snow leopard being absent).
In all, we explored the zoo in about two hours, something that is unthinkable when visiting the Bronx Zoo due to its sheer size. Plus, we found a great parking spot on Fifth Avenue across from the zoo, making the walk to/from parking much more enjoyable.
What did I learn? That even what seems similar can, in fact, be very different, and that there is tremendous value to seeing things through a slightly different lens, even if, in general, we’re looking at the “same” things. When I think of how this relates to my work, I can think of a number of opportunities where a simple shift in approach to a situation resulted in drastically different outcomes. It is very important for us to always take the time to look at things differently.