Some immediate and longer-term effects of a zoo exhibit.

Journal of Environmental Systems 01/2011; 33(1):19-28. DOI: 10.2190/ES.33.1.b

ABSTRACT Many people visit zoos each year to be entertained, restored, and educated. While the spotlight is usually on animals and habitats, zoos are increasingly focusing on humans and their role in environmental stewardship. The primate exhibit at Brookfield Zoo in Illinois was designed to address this new focus. The exhibit includes a multi-stage educational experience at its exit that highlights what visitors can do to incorporate conservation behavior into their lives. A feature of such an experience is the short time one spends in it. This article examines the effect of this brief educational exposure. The findings indicate that the experience does increase interest among those behaviors that demand a considerable investment of time. While a follow-up survey revealed this interest diminished over time, the exhibit's core messages were resilient. This study provides evidence that even a briefly experienced, free-choice educational exhibits can promote concern for environmental stewardship.

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May 31, 2014