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Launching Research: Animal Protection, Education and Appreciation in Minnesota

February 10th, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

Animals play a significant role in the lives of nearly all humans. They fill the role of companions, service animals, educational subjects and more. We partnered with Minnesota Philanthropy Partners to explore the many ways that nonprofit organizations across MN protect, appreciate, and learn from animals.

Scope of the research 

In preparation for this research, I interviewed 11 experts working in animal related fields in Minnesota. Their insights have helped define the scope of this research. (Thank you to those of you who offered your time and expertise!)

There are a many facets of the animal sector including diversity of animals, services, and missions focus. This research will concentrate on animal protection, appreciation, and education. These wide ranging and overlapping areas together paint a clear picture of Minnesota’s diverse nonprofit landscape related to animals.



The causes of animal suffering can be thought of in two broad categories: Harm inflicted by individuals (either through malice or ignorance) and harm imposed through systemic conditions, such as food industry regulations, poor treatment of entertainment animals, commercial breeding industries, and the like. While some animal protection efforts seek to eliminate the use of animals for food, entertainment, hunting, or science entirely, many work to minimize animal suffering and exploitation in these situations.

Habitat preservation and restoration efforts are another form of animal protections. This both ensuring mutual safety and comfort in spaces shared by human and animals as well as preserving and maintaining space specifically for various animals. Similarly, animals and their habitats must be protected from the negative effects of climate change such as habitat displacement, diminishing health, and changes in their diet.


In many ways, animals help us to better understand and appreciate the world around us. Exotic, local, free, and captive animals alike, have the ability to open imaginations and peak curiosity. Guided interactions provided by zoos, nature centers, conservatories, and the like give people of all ages the opportunity learn so much more about the world around them. Through this informal scientific instruction, people have the opportunity to learn about habitat, their own role in conservation, and more.

Science and education play a large role in conservation, habitat restoration, and re-population efforts across Minnesota. Scientists, researchers, breeders, zoo keepers and many others work to ensure that animals with dwindling populations or compromised conditions are restored. They research health issues that may be infecting particular species, run re-habitation and breeding programs for dwindling populations, share new methods of care for animals, and more. Many, work to mitigate the negative effects of climate change on animals as well as share those challenges to better educate the public on climate change as a whole.


This research also honors the important roles that animals can fill in our lives. Service and therapy animals support humans experiencing a wide range of emotion and physical difficulties. From hospital visits to daily care, these animals are trained to provide support and companionship that often is unmatched. Nonprofits train these helpful animals and their owners to work together. Not only that, they also work to ensure that the public is educated about the rights of individuals with service animals as well as accreditation process, which ensure that animals are well trained.

Types of Animals – All of the categories listed here overlap with a range of animals. Experts may identify nonprofits working with the following types of animals

  • Captive animals
  • Companion animals
  • Exotic animals
  • Livestock
  • Pests
  • Service animals
  • Wildfire

Types of organizations

  • Advocacy organizations
  • Animal fostering organizations
  • Animal adoption organizations
  • Animal conservatories
  • Animal sanctuaries
  • Education intuitions
  • Nature centers
  • Rescue organizations
  • Service animal training organizations
  • Zoos


Participation in the Research

If you are a professional (foundation staff, researcher, nonprofit staff member, etc.) working in the field of animals in Minnesota and have insight on nonprofit organizations working in this field, we’d love to hear from you. You may have received an email from us with a link to our survey. The survey will be open until mid-March 2014. We hope you will share your perspective and insights! If for some reason we have missed you and you think you have a valuable perspective to offer, please contact Jasmine Marrow at with information about your current position and background, and we would be happy to send the survey to you to include your recommendations.

Additionally, we invite your feedback and thoughts about how you might frame this type of work. For those readers less familiar with this topic, we hope you learned something new and will check in again when we have the results of this research. Thank you all for your participation!


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