Miklós Persányi

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 1999
Budapest Zoo


This profile was prepared when Miklós Persányi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Miklos feels strongly that as zoos attract millions of visitors annually, they provide an excellent, although largely untapped, resource for furthering the aims of environmental awareness and preservation. Since his appointment as the Director of the National Zoo of Budapest in 1994, he has introduced innovative educational programs designed to facilitate involvement in broad environmental concerns across a range of groups—businesses, schools, families, and scientists. Under his direction, the Zoo has become a training facility for school children and adults alike, and its programs are reaching sectors of the population that would otherwise have little or no exposure to pressing issues resulting from sustained environmental degradation.

Through interactive educational programs, including daily classes and presentations and controlled animal feeding, the Zoo provides an outdoor classroom for thousands of school children and visitors. Miklos’ programs have significantly bolstered the Zoo’s visibility and fund-raising capability in Hungary and beyond. During his tenure as the Director, attendance has jumped from 100,000 to over 1 million visitors annually. The cost of entrance has also risen by 100 percent but Miklos has devised a system whereby families, children, the disabled, etc. receive discounts on this fee. In 1994, fewer than 1,000 children aged 3 to 18 visited the Zoo; now, five years later, over 25,000 students flock to the Zoo to learn about animals, their habitats, and their needs—both in confinement and in the wild. In addition to advancing environmental awareness through the Zoo’s new programs, Miklos is cultivating civic involvement and volunteerism in support of the century-old Zoo as a prized cultural institution.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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