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


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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    ABSTRACT: Using a framework based on social cognitive career theory, we conducted 38 interviews and four focus groups with college students to identify motivations and barriers faced by underrepresented groups to natural resource careers. Interviews revealed career satisfaction as the most important goal for both natural resource and a comparison of liberal arts students. School difficulty and outsider perceptions were barriers for both groups. Natural resource students faced family pressure to pursue other careers. Focus groups with natural resource students using Q methodology revealed participation in outdoor recreation, exposure to nature-related media, and witnessing environmental degradation as important influences. Barriers included perceptions of ethnic/racial discrimination, financial pressures, and lack of confidence. Results may help academia and agencies better address motivations and barriers to natural resource careers.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · The Journal of Environmental Education