Does an Animal–Visitor Interactive Experience Drive Conservation Action? (Collins, McKeown & O'Riordan, 2021)
A study in JZBG investigated the impact of an interactive experience with Sumatran tigers on zoo visitor learning:
✔Visitors helped making enrichment for tigers & observed them interacting with it;
✔Tiger welfare not compromised by activity likely enhanced;
✔Most visitors showed high knowledge & positive attitude towards tigers,
✔Only 8% of participants responded to email in follow-up study, but all of these recalled the activity & their pledge;
✔No control group for comparison but activity may have improved visitor knowledge & attitudes towards conservation.
Photo credit: Fota Wildlife Park
Exploring the Impact of Educational Quizzes and Stamp Collecting Trails on Zoo Visitor Learning and Exhibit Observation (Asari & Ikuta, 2021)
New paper in JZBG investigated the impact of educational activities (quizzes & stamp collection trails) on zoo visitor learning & exhibit observation:
✔Higher % of visitors involved in activities visited the target animals,
✔In some species, exhibit observations were higher for visitors involved in activities,
✔In some species, higher % of correct answers in visitors involved in the quiz game,
✔Quiz game was most effective at encouraging reading of information signs,
✔Both activities effectively guided the visitors & (especially quiz) have the potential to increase zoo education output.
Assessing the Impacts of Engaging with a Touch Table on Safari Park Visitors (Davies, Sowerby & Johnson, 2021)
A new study in JZBG investigated the impacts of a "touch table" on zoo visitor engagement:
✔Dwell times were higher when a member of staff was present, in colder seasons and in families;
✔Families & groups showed higher engagement;
✔Higher engagement associated with increased dwell times;
✔Locations used for touch tables also affected visitor response;
✔"Surface-level" conversations more common than "deeper-level" ones.
Animal-human two-shot images: Their out-of-context interpretation and the implications for zoo and conservation settings (Spooner & Stride, 2021)
New study in Zoo Biology investigated the zoo visitor interpretation of animal-human two-shot images:
✔Zoo-based images elicited the highest stated Willingness to Donate & stronger connections to the animals;
✔Images of uniformed keepers with animals did not significantly increase desire for pet ownership;
✔Potential misconceptions about animal welfare in zoos VS other settings - greater education efforts needed? ;
✔Two-shot images can be used by zoos to increase conservation support & donations with little detrimental effects.
Picturing donations: Do images influence conservation fundraising? (Salazar et al, 2021)
A new study in Plos One investigated the effects of signs with different images on zoo visitor donations to conservation:
✔Four different images were tested (same text): dolphins, ocean wildlife, children & people/"watching eyes";
✔>20,000 passed the donation box & a total € 952.40 collected;
✔No significant differences in mean donations found between conditions;
✔Visual frames used and the use of donation box (passive channel) may have influenced the results.
Education Is Entertainment? Zoo Science Communication on YouTube (Llewellyn & Rose, 2021)
A recent paper in JZBG evaluated the Youtube content of 20 zoos between 2016 and 2019:
✔Greater focus on entertainment than education-based content;
✔Uneven representation of taxonomic diversity;
✔Conservation-oriented content increasing over time;
✔Only 3% of most viewed/popular videos were conservation-related;
✔Engagement with large audiences but the educational content and the way its presented needs to be reviewed and refined.
Testing the Effect of Aquarium-Based Learning on Patron Acceptance of Evolutionary Theory (Tolman et al., 2021)
A study published in JZAR found that a significant number of individuals changed to a more positive view of the evolutionary theory after watching an aquarium-based live animal presentation. Even though the sample size was small and invites further research, these results provide more evidence of the role of zoos & aquariums in promoting science and educating the public.
Photo credit: Aquarium of Boise
Evaluating the effectiveness of live animal shows at delivering information to zoo audiences (Spooner et al., 2021)
Are live animal shows effective at educating zoo visitors? New research found:
✔Over 25% of visitors in a zoo attended a show;
✔Visitors showed significantly higher animal knowledge after the show;
✔Conservation action awareness increased, but weakly;
✔Trick-type behaviours caused confusion about natural adaptations;
✔Live animal shows have great potential, but should focus on natural behaviours & conservation action.
Photo credit: Flamingo Land Resort
The impact of in‐person and video‐recorded animal experiences on zoo visitors' cognition, affect, empathic concern, and conservation intent (Miller al., 2020).
A study in Zoo Biology compared the visitor response to watching an in-person polar bear training session, a video-recording of the same session, and an audio of the session with image of animal keeper (Control):
✔In-person experience: increased knowledge, empathy for wild bears, willingness to get involved in conservation & positive emotional experience;
✔This was not observed in the video experience;
✔Further evidence for importance of in-person zoo experiences.
Photo credit: Chicago Zoological Society/Brookfield Zoo
Virtual Reality in the Zoo: A Qualitative Evaluation of a Stereoscopic Virtual Reality Video Encounter with Little Penguins (Eudyptula minor) (Carter et al., 2020).
A study in JZAR evaluated visitor perceptions towards a 3D Virtual Reality experience at the zoo, featuring footage of little penguins feeding, food preparation and narration by zoo keepers:
✔Qualitative evaluation: cognitive immersion, emotional immersion, physical presence and social presence;
✔Generally, visitors had positive attitudes towards the VR experience;
✔Potential opportunities to improve visitor experience and education.
Photo credit: Melbourne Zoo