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Abstract

Zoos play a unique role in wildlife conservation, particularly in the area of conservation education. Because of their popularity and flagship status for broader conservation issues, great apes may prove to be one of the most important educational conduits in zoos. In 2002, we surveyed knowledge of and attitudes toward African apes in visitors to the Lester E. Fisher Great Ape House (GAH) at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL, USA. In the current study, we replicated the survey to document attitudes to and knowledge of the newly renovated and naturalistic Regenstein Center for African Apes (RCAA) and compared results. We found RCAA was no more effective than GAH in increasing visitor knowledge about apes, although visitors answered more questions correctly upon exit than on entrance in both buildings. We did find, however, that RCAA was more effective than GAH at improving visitor attitudes toward chimpanzees. Specifically, upon exiting, RCAA visitors showed increased naturalistic attitudes and reduced utilitarian attitudes toward chimpanzees. Exhibiting apes in naturalistic settings may therefore be an effective way to increase visitor concern for apes in nature and in zoos. Zoos and aquariums investing in new, naturalistic ape exhibits with the aim to educate about, provide emotional connections to, improve attitudes toward, and ultimately increase conservation of apes, need to then critically evaluate whether the actual effect of the designed environment on visitors—above and beyond intended benefits for the animals—is commensurate with the investment. The broader impacts of even small shifts in visitor attitude in the right direction could be significant. These findings may vary across species and settings, however, and should be assessed accordingly.

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... Some researchers have found shortterm increases in knowledge scores after a zoo/aquarium visit (Hayward and Rothenberg 2004;Ross 2005, 2014;Wagner et al. 2009); others have not (Balmford et al. 2007;Yerke and Burns 1991). Similarly, some researchers have found short-term increases in pro-conservation attitudes after a zoo/aquarium visit (Falk, Heimlich, and Bronnenkant 2008;Lukas and Ross 2014;Wagner et al. 2009;Yerke and Burns 1991); others have not (Adelman, Falk, and James 2000;Lukas and Ross 2005). In terms of behavior, researchers have found that intentions to engage in pro-conservation behaviors after a zoo/aquarium visit are significantly higher than reported engagement in these behaviors before the visit; however, these intentions do not appear to translate into long-term behavioral change (Adelman, Falk, and James 2000;Dierking et al. 2004), unless visitors are given an opportunity to watch live animal shows and/or engage in varying levels of interactive experiences with animals (Miller et al. 2013). ...
... Owing to the mixed findings from these evaluations, as well as the relatively few assessments of long-term changes in KAB, this has been widely recognized as a crucial area for further research (Dierking et al. 2002;Luebke and Grajal 2011;Sterling, Lee, and Wood 2007;Stoinski et al. 2001). Assessments of impact on KAB are especially important when changes are made to animal exhibits and conservation-related displays and signage, and these assessments are best undertaken using the methodology of a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) (Lukas and Ross 2014). ...
... To our knowledge, Lukas and Ross (2014) are the only researchers who have studied how changes in exhibit design in the same facility (with the same animals and visitor base) affect changes in conservation knowledge and attitudes amongst visitors. This POE was conducted at Lincoln Park Zoo's great ape exhibit when a traditional second-generation exhibit (with hard concrete floors, steel climbing structures, and static displays) was converted to a more naturalistic exhibit with soft mulch flooring, climbing structures that looked like trees and vines, and interactive educational materials for the visitors. ...
Article
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Given that conservation education is a primary goal for zoos, it is important to study how changes in exhibit design in the same facility (with the same animals and visitor base) can impact short- and long-term conservation knowledge, attitudes, and behavior (KAB) amongst visitors. However, there is very limited research on this topic. Our goal was to conduct a comprehensive post-occupancy evaluation to study this impact at two exhibits that underwent renovations at Zoo Atlanta, using rigorous methodology and addressing limitations in previous research. We did not find significant differences in KAB scores when comparing the pre- and post-renovated exhibits. This is contrary to the existing view that renovations from non-naturalistic to naturalistic exhibits (and/or renovations to displays and signage) will improve KAB. Future researchers should continue to use rigorous methods to obtain valid and reliable measures of the impact of zoo exhibits and exhibit renovations on conservation-related KAB.
... Post Occupancy Evaluations (POE) were originally designed to assess the functionality and use of industrial buildings, but their application to zoos and aquariums is now widely recognised (Kelling and Gaalema 2011). In zoos, these evaluations are used to determine the value of existing enclosures for all stakeholders (Lukas and Ross 2014). As such, the typical POE is comprised of an evaluation of visitor opinions and dwell time (Wilson 2003), functionality for staff, and animal perspectives (Lukas and Ross 2014). ...
... In zoos, these evaluations are used to determine the value of existing enclosures for all stakeholders (Lukas and Ross 2014). As such, the typical POE is comprised of an evaluation of visitor opinions and dwell time (Wilson 2003), functionality for staff, and animal perspectives (Lukas and Ross 2014). A vital component of POE in the zoo, therefore, is assessment of animal behaviour and enclosure use. ...
... These behavioural measures are often combined with SPI or zone use techniques (White et al. 2003;Clark and Melfi 2012 1983;Traylor-Holzer and Fritz 1985;Bettinger et al. 1994;Goff et al. 1994;Lukas et al. 2003;Ross and Lukas 2006;Ross et al. 2009;Ross et al. 2011;Lukas and Ross 2014;Bloomfield et al. 2015;Yamanashi et al. 2016;Ang et al. 2017. ...
Article
Full-text available
Post Occupancy Evaluation is a powerful assessment tool for zoo and aquarium enclosure design, which incorporates animal enclosure use as a key component. Many authors suggest that naturalistic enclosures are valuable for animals, but objective analysis is required to support this statement. Studies of animal enclosure use have become prevalent in published literature, and these studies are often used to quantify the effects of enrichment, enclosure modifications and changes in animal social grouping. Several assessment techniques are available, including zone occupancy, traditional and modified Spread of Participation Index (SPI) and Electivity Index. Many studies also incorporate measures of behavioural diversity and stereotypy prevalence to support enclosure use findings. Given the variety of methods accessible to researchers, there is a need to evaluate which indices are most appropriate for different exhibit types and species. This review revealed a bias toward mammals as subjects for enclosure use studies, though studies have also been initiated for birds and fish. Traditional SPI and zone usage are well represented in published studies as measures of enclosure suitability. By contrast, fewer published studies have used modified SPI, or Electivity Index, which allows enclosures to be analysed based on their biological resources. Several influential studies combined behavioural analyses with SPI measurements to best understand animal enclosure use. Future directions in enclosure use may include the evaluation of thermal or ultraviolet zones for herptiles, depth-based zones for aquatic species, and effects of visitors on zone use.
... When educational programs are evaluated in the zoo context, environmental attitudes [31,32], nature connectedness [13,33], environmental knowledge [34,35], or behavior change [16,17] are often examined. Knowledge has long been considered one of the most important factors influencing behavior, but this old paradigm is increasingly being disputed [36]. ...
... For example, some studies found a positive effect of a zoo visit or environmental education program at the zoo on environmental attitudes [15,41,42]. In contrast, other studies found no change [43,44] or only small effects [31]. Therefore, in this study we will investigate whether a simple environmental education program at a zoo-a one hour zoo tour-has a positive effect on participants' connection to nature and attitudes toward species conservation. ...
... Frequently, environmental attitudes are also summarized as care for nature or concern about environmental problems [64]. Although visitor studies in the zoo context often consider environmental attitudes (e.g., [31,32,42,43,65]), attitudes toward species conservation specifically tend to be neglected. Therefore, in this study we specifically examined the influence of guided zoo tours on attitudes toward species conservation and connection to nature. ...
Article
Full-text available
In recent decades, zoos have been increasingly transformed into education centers with the goal of raising awareness about environmental issues and providing environmental education. Probably the simplest and most widespread environmental education program in the zoo is the guided tour. This study therefore aims to test whether a one hour zoo tour has an influence on the participants’ connection to nature and attitude towards species conservation. For this purpose, 269 people who had voluntarily registered for a zoo tour were surveyed before and after the tour. In addition to the regular zoo tour, special themed tours and tours with animal feedings were included. The results show a positive increase in connection to nature and a strengthening of positive attitudes towards species conservation for all tour types. For nature connectedness, in particular, people with an initial high connection to nature benefitted from the special themed tours and the tours, including animal feedings. For attitudes towards species conservation, no difference was found between the tour types. The results prove the positive influence of a very simple environmental education program, even for people with a preexisting high level of connection to nature and positive attitude towards species conservation.
... The positive influences that naturalistic exhibits can have on visitor opinions and behaviours through increased engagement and enhanced curiosity have also been widely studied (Price et al. 1994;Davey et al. 2005;Ross et al. 2012). For example, exhibit aesthetic was an important contributing factor in an improvement of visitors' attitudes towards zoo-housed apes reported following a major renovation that made the apes' exhibit more naturalistic (Lukas and Ross 2014). With potential benefits to both education and animal care efforts, an increasing number of zoos have aimed to increase the naturalism of existing and new animal exhibits. ...
... The overarching aim of this study was to contribute to knowledge about the exhibition of wild animals, with a specific focus on chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and potentially to inform future management and enrichment selection criteria in zoos. Chimpanzees were selected because previous studies have revealed that zoo visitors have more positive attitudes when observing chimpanzees in naturalistic zoo exhibits (Lukas and Ross 2014) and that seeing chimpanzees in anthropogenic settings reduces peoples' understanding of their endangered status (Ross et al. 2008). Furthermore, a study that digitally altered the environmental background of photographs in which a chimpanzee was displayed, demonstrated that when people were shown chimpanzees in human environments, such as an office, viewers tended to view them as appealing pets . ...
... The outdoor yard was composed of a natural grass substrate, living foliage, and a variety of climbing elements (trees, bamboo, and vines) that were artificially constructed but naturalistic in appearance. The indoor dayroom (Figure 1) was naturally lit with expansive windows, and included similar features as well as a deep-mulch substrate, as described by Lukas and Ross (2014). ...
... Some researchers have found shortterm increases in knowledge scores after a zoo/aquarium visit (Hayward and Rothenberg 2004;Ross 2005, 2014;Wagner et al. 2009); others have not (Balmford et al. 2007;Yerke and Burns 1991). Similarly, some researchers have found short-term increases in pro-conservation attitudes after a zoo/aquarium visit (Falk, Heimlich, and Bronnenkant 2008;Lukas and Ross 2014;Wagner et al. 2009;Yerke and Burns 1991); others have not (Adelman, Falk, and James 2000;Lukas and Ross 2005). In terms of behavior, researchers have found that intentions to engage in pro-conservation behaviors after a zoo/aquarium visit are significantly higher than reported engagement in these behaviors before the visit; however, these intentions do not appear to translate into long-term behavioral change (Adelman, Falk, and James 2000;Dierking et al. 2004), unless visitors are given an opportunity to watch live animal shows and/or engage in varying levels of interactive experiences with animals (Miller et al. 2013). ...
... Owing to the mixed findings from these evaluations, as well as the relatively few assessments of long-term changes in KAB, this has been widely recognized as a crucial area for further research (Dierking et al. 2002;Luebke and Grajal 2011;Sterling, Lee, and Wood 2007;Stoinski et al. 2001). Assessments of impact on KAB are especially important when changes are made to animal exhibits and conservation-related displays and signage, and these assessments are best undertaken using the methodology of a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) (Lukas and Ross 2014). ...
... To our knowledge, Lukas and Ross (2014) are the only researchers who have studied how changes in exhibit design in the same facility (with the same animals and visitor base) affect changes in conservation knowledge and attitudes amongst visitors. This POE was conducted at Lincoln Park Zoo's great ape exhibit when a traditional second-generation exhibit (with hard concrete floors, steel climbing structures, and static displays) was converted to a more naturalistic exhibit with soft mulch flooring, climbing structures that looked like trees and vines, and interactive educational materials for the visitors. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this project was to determine whether visitors utilize conservation and education displays in the Living Treehouse at Zoo Atlanta. Approximately 34% of visitors read displays and watched animals on exhibit. This subset of visitors spent significantly more time watching animals than reading displays [F(1, 44) = 15.62, p < 0.001, ƞ2 = 0.26]. Limited interaction with relatively static displays may not lead to the intended change in knowledge and conservation attitudes among zoo visitors. Interactive displays (instead of static signage) separated from animal exhibits may be more effective in attracting and holding attention and delivering conservation and educational messages to a wide audience.
... The positive influences that naturalistic exhibits can have on visitor opinions and behaviours through increased engagement and enhanced curiosity have also been widely studied (Price et al. 1994;Davey et al. 2005;Ross et al. 2012). For example, exhibit aesthetic was an important contributing factor in an improvement of visitors' attitudes towards zoo-housed apes reported following a major renovation that made the apes' exhibit more naturalistic (Lukas and Ross 2014). With potential benefits to both education and animal care efforts, an increasing number of zoos have aimed to increase the naturalism of existing and new animal exhibits. ...
... The overarching aim of this study was to contribute to knowledge about the exhibition of wild animals, with a specific focus on chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes), and potentially to inform future management and enrichment selection criteria in zoos. Chimpanzees were selected because previous studies have revealed that zoo visitors have more positive attitudes when observing chimpanzees in naturalistic zoo exhibits (Lukas and Ross 2014) and that seeing chimpanzees in anthropogenic settings reduces peoples' understanding of their endangered status (Ross et al. 2008). Furthermore, a study that digitally altered the environmental background of photographs in which a chimpanzee was displayed, demonstrated that when people were shown chimpanzees in human environments, such as an office, viewers tended to view them as appealing pets . ...
... The outdoor yard was composed of a natural grass substrate, living foliage, and a variety of climbing elements (trees, bamboo, and vines) that were artificially constructed but naturalistic in appearance. The indoor dayroom (Figure 1) was naturally lit with expansive windows, and included similar features as well as a deep-mulch substrate, as described by Lukas and Ross (2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
Zoo-housed animals are provided with many temporary elements in their exhibit, such as environmental enrichment devices (EEDs), which may not match the aesthetic of their exhibit. Some zoos object to the use of artificial EEDs in naturalistic exhibits, but there has been little research into whether the appearance of these temporary elements influences visitors' perceptions. Therefore, we investigated visitors' opinions about a naturalistic chimpanzee exhibit at Lincoln Park Zoo when EEDs were provided to the chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). We wished to determine whether exhibit naturalism was important to visitors; what their perceptions were of the chimpanzees' behaviour and emotions; what their thoughts were about the suitability of chimpanzees as pets; and whether these beliefs were affected by the type of EED in the chimpanzees' exhibit. Eight EEDS were chosen for this study: four that were naturalistic in appearance and four that were designed to elicit similar species-typical behaviours, but were artificial in appearance. Visitors' responses to the survey revealed that they generally believed that exhibit naturalism was important, and that the chimpanzee exhibit was naturalistic in appearance; they viewed the chimpanzees' behaviour and feelings positively; and they did not think chimpanzees made good pets. Visitors' responses to the survey questions did not differ whether artificial or naturalistic EEDs were provided in the exhibit. These results support previous research that zoo visitors are not affected by EED aesthetic in a naturalistic exhibit, perhaps because the naturalism of the exhibit supersedes any effect or because the EEDs represent such small elements within the exhibit.
... In 1st generation exhibits, a variety of animals are exhibited in cages and small areas [20]. This type of exhibits include data plates related to the animals 21 . ...
... This enables people who have dilemmas about whether zoos are for "education" to be persuaded and visit the zoos more often. As a result, people become more interested in natural life and their attention is raised and it becomes easier for them to obtain information about animals because studies show that the attitudes and the knowledge of the visitors change after the zoo visit 20,38 . The design of exhibit areas are effective for this change to be positive or negative because while natural exhibit areas positively affect the attitudes of individuals towards animals and their learning 8,18,28,32,35,39 , unnatural exhibit areas affect them negatively 12,25,31,35 . ...
... The design of exhibit areas is of great importance for the zoo visit that the most of the visitors do for "educational purposes" to reach its aim. When the general perspective formed by these exhibit areas is perceived positively (such as natural, wide and limitless) by the visitors, zoos are provided to be perceived as learning environments as in a zoo including natural exhibit areas because these exhibit areas generally are the environments that aim to create "a beautiful and independent wildlife image living in a landscape that cannot be interfered by the human beings" 20,42 . This finding may as well be supported by the idea that was asserted by Carr and Cohen (2011) 43 suggesting that zoos may become the environments that promote learning by providing learning opportunities to the visitors and therefore, the role that they have as effective learning environments should not be disregarded. ...
Article
Full-text available
Zoos help people to learn through exhibiting the relationships of animals in nature. Therefore, they have the important missions of education and protection of wild life. Most of these missions are achieved through visitors' experiences in exhibit areas. Therefore, it is important to understand visitors' experiences in the zoo and know the reasons that affect these experiences. Animals should exhibit normal behaviors actively to enable visitors to have positive experiences during their visits. For this reason, the design of exhibit areas is significant. The purpose of this study is to determine the visitors' perceptual descriptions in the zoos including different exhibit areas and their reasons to visit them. Thus, the role of the zoos in enabling visitors to learn nature protection and have environmental consciousness is explored correlating with zoo typologies. In this study, three zoos in different typologies in Turkey have been examined and it is conducted in two stages. In the first stage, the typologies of the zoos have been identified. In the second stage, a questionnaire has been conducted to find out the visitors' visiting aims, the extent they reached these aims, their level of appreciation and their perceptions on exhibit areas. The questionnaire has been performed with 450 zoo visitors, and there have been 150 visitors from each zoo. According to the results of this study, it has been explored that visitors visit the zoos mostly for "education" without considering the design approach. However, it has been found out that the design of exhibit areas affects visitors' level of appreciation and their zoo descriptions. It has been identified that as the level of appreciation increases, the level of reaching aims increases. Keywords:Zoos; Exhibition Design; Visitor Perception; Visitor Experiences
... Some researchers have found shortterm increases in knowledge scores after a zoo/aquarium visit (Hayward and Rothenberg 2004;Ross 2005, 2014;Wagner et al. 2009); others have not (Balmford et al. 2007;Yerke and Burns 1991). Similarly, some researchers have found short-term increases in pro-conservation attitudes after a zoo/aquarium visit (Falk, Heimlich, and Bronnenkant 2008;Lukas and Ross 2014;Wagner et al. 2009;Yerke and Burns 1991); others have not (Adelman, Falk, and James 2000;Lukas and Ross 2005). In terms of behavior, researchers have found that intentions to engage in pro-conservation behaviors after a zoo/aquarium visit are significantly higher than reported engagement in these behaviors before the visit; however, these intentions do not appear to translate into long-term behavioral change (Adelman, Falk, and James 2000;Dierking et al. 2004), unless visitors are given an opportunity to watch live animal shows and/or engage in varying levels of interactive experiences with animals (Miller et al. 2013). ...
... Owing to the mixed findings from these evaluations, as well as the relatively few assessments of long-term changes in KAB, this has been widely recognized as a crucial area for further research (Dierking et al. 2002;Luebke and Grajal 2011;Sterling, Lee, and Wood 2007;Stoinski et al. 2001). Assessments of impact on KAB are especially important when changes are made to animal exhibits and conservation-related displays and signage, and these assessments are best undertaken using the methodology of a post-occupancy evaluation (POE) (Lukas and Ross 2014). ...
... To our knowledge, Lukas and Ross (2014) are the only researchers who have studied how changes in exhibit design in the same facility (with the same animals and visitor base) affect changes in conservation knowledge and attitudes amongst visitors. This POE was conducted at Lincoln Park Zoo's great ape exhibit when a traditional second-generation exhibit (with hard concrete floors, steel climbing structures, and static displays) was converted to a more naturalistic exhibit with soft mulch flooring, climbing structures that looked like trees and vines, and interactive educational materials for the visitors. ...
... There were no significant differences between 105 the attitudes of the visitors before and after the visit, but returning visitors showed a more 106 ecocentric perspective compared with first-time visitors (Lukas & Ross, 2005). Exhibiting 107 primates in naturalistic environments may be an effective way to engage tourists' interest on 108 conservation issues of monkeys and apes (Lukas and Ross, 2014). In particular, viewing free-109 ranging monkeys can stimulate interest, increase sensitivity and education of visitors towards 110 ...
... As documented previously (Price et al., 1994, Lukas andRoss, 2014), the keeping of 404 monkeys in a sufficiently large, free-roam space-in which they can move at will, choose 405 whether to be close to people or not, and to have the freedom to form social groups-is a model 406 example of ideal wildlife tourism attractions. Moreover, the guided tour element at such an 407 attraction positively influences visitors' knowledge of primate species. ...
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The aim of the present study is to investigate themes related to visitors’ perceptions of captive wildlife in particular, attitudes towards non-human primates (henceforth, primates). This research took place in free-roaming, multi-species primate sanctuary, Monkeyland (South Africa), where 400 visitors were interviewed using an anonymous survey both before and after attending a guided tour. The answers were divided into different categories, in order to standardize the motivations behind tourists’ choices. The results of the survey demonstrated that most visitors agree that a primate would not be a good companion animal. Visitors’ desire to touch primates was found to be positively correlated with desire for companion primates and inversely associated with visitor age. In response to: “would you like to touch a monkey?”, the majority of tourists who expressed this desire seemed aware that such interactions are not appropriate, with concern for animal welfare and human health. Of the various primate species present in the sanctuary, visitors preferred the ring-tailed lemur (Lemur catta) and, generally speaking, expressed appreciation for primates’ “cuteness”. Our results indicate a general awareness by the visitors on the importance of animal welfare in the human interactions with captive wildlife, in agreement with the “hands-off” policy of Monkeyland primate sanctuary. We discuss the findings from a general to zooanthropological point of view, proposing some reflections on the attitudes of visitors toward non-human primates.
... The mankind also needs to know that they should form their living environment without destroying the habitats of other living creatures. Therefore, zoos are very important as they provide people to have a positive relationship with nature [2], to transmit the love of nature to a large mass of people, to increase consciousness towards nature [3] to encourage people to understand by providing learning opportunities, to strengthen the interest and the sense of protecting animals [4][5][6][7][8][9] and, to help visitors to recognize animals [10][11][12]. Therefore, zoos help people to learn through reflecting the relationships of animals in nature [5,6,13,14,15]. ...
... The design of zoo exhibit areas has been improved for many years in order to meet recreational needs of the visitors as well as providing education. This improvement is focused on the way that people perceive animals [24] and the natural behaviors that animals are exhibited [7]. Exhibit areas are classified as three generations [25]: In the first generation exhibits, animals are exhibited in cages or in deep holes surrounded by walls. ...
Article
Full-text available
Zoos in urban areas are very important as they enable urban people to have relationship with nature. Therefore, zoos strengthen the interest and the sense of protecting animals and required to help visitors to learn by reflecting the interactions of animals in nature. With their design approaches, naturalistic exhibits (third generation zoo exhibits) encourage visitors to know and protect animals. No research has yet been conducted on the experiences of visitors in naturalistic zoo exhibits in Turkey. Therefore, within the scope of the study, the effects of naturalistic exhibits on Turkish visitors (n=480) have been identified. The pre-visit and the post-visit feelings of the visitors have been investigated in two stages. According to the results of the study, naturalistic exhibits are described by Turkish people as natural, characterizing the habitats of animals and a place where animals are happy to live.
... Visitors are attracted to and more interested in active animals (Margulis, Hoyos, & Anderson, 2003), as well as reporting more caring for and amusement with active animals (Myers, Saunders, & Birjulin, 2010). Naturalistic exhibits are more effective than traditional enclosures at improving zoo visitor attitudes, increasing naturalistic and decreasing utilitarian attitudes toward chimpanzees (Lukas & Ross, 2014). It is unclear whether naturalistic exhibits improve visitor knowledge about the animals. ...
... Visitors at a free-range cotton-top tamarin (Saguinus oedipus) exhibit reported believing that they could learn more from animals in such exhibits compared with caged animals (Price, Ashmore, & McGivern, 1994). However, at least one study has demonstrated that more functionally and aesthetically naturalistic exhibits do not improve knowledge about the animals (Lukas & Ross, 2014). ...
Article
Shifts toward naturalistic zoo enclosures in the last decades of the 20th century prompted research findings that perceptions of animals were influenced by their environment. The current study replicated and expanded upon that prior work. University students ( n = 1,253) viewed animals in wild, naturalistic, front cage bar, or back cage bar settings with a name-only control and rated each animal on 11 semantic characteristics. Exploratory factor analysis of those ratings revealed underlying constructs of aesthetic appeal, docility, and vigor. Women perceived animals as more aesthetically appealing than did men. Perceptions of docility increased and vigor decreased as the naturalness of the environment declined. Measures of nature relatedness and environmental motives were not altered by viewing different environments but those traits influenced perceptions of aesthetic appeal. The current findings show that environment alters some but not all of the elements of how animals are perceived by the public.
... The idea that people appreciate close interaction with animals is further supported by the fact that many zoos, including the site studied here (Chester Zoo, UK), offer experiences in which you can pay to interact with and feed a select few species (NEZS 2018a). Given that visitors appreciate being close to animals, walk-through exhibits that allow for close proximity to animals may provide the visitor with the most positive zoo experience, which may instil a greater appreciation for that species and a greater interest in its conservation (Lukas and Ross 2014). As such, walk-through exhibits that can provide entertainment and effortlessly encompass learning may provide direction for enhancing the educational potential of the zoo visit and in helping zoos to support their conservation goals. ...
... However, referring back to two of the aims of the modern zoo-conservation and conservation education-if visitors are displaying a deeper level of engagement with species at walkthrough exhibits, it may be expected that they would have a greater interest in the conservation of those species (Lukas and Ross 2014). However, conversation analysis revealed that visitor comments relating to conservation were made in only 2.3% of observations. ...
Article
Full-text available
Modern zoos claim to be a platform for conservation education and attempt to educate visitors using textual interpretation, public talks and engaging exhibit design. Walk-through exhibits aim to maximise the educational potential of a zoo visit by providing a unique, immersive experience that can enhance visitor connection with a species. This study assesses visitor engagement with walk-through zoo exhibits in comparison to traditional exhibits, and explores the role that educators and volunteers play in encouraging visitor engagement. Covert visitor observations were used to quantify dwell times and categorise conversational data at different exhibits. Species at walk-through exhibits elicited more comments related to surface level and deeper level information when compared to species at traditional exhibits (P<0.001). Similarly, a higher number of surface level and deeper level comments were made when a visitor had engaged with an educator or volunteer (P<0.001). Dwell times were over six times longer at walk-through exhibits; higher dwell times were significantly related to higher numbers of surface level comments (R 2 =0.433) and deeper level comments (R 2 =0.361). By conducting visitor surveys pre-visit and post-visit to a walk-through exhibit, some significant changes in visitor attitudes towards pro-conservation themes were revealed, but little evidence that visitors had learned something new from the exhibit. Overall, walk-through exhibits that utilise educators or volunteers can enhance visitor engagement with a species, although further research into additional interventions is necessary to determine how this engagement could be developed into pro-conservation knowledge and actions.
... For example, naturalistic backgrounds in wildlife images lead to less desire for wild animals as pets than humanistic backgrounds [29,36]. In addition, naturalistic settings and enclosures at zoos have been theorised to increase positive attitudes and emotions towards the species they house, as well as greater value for their survival in the wild [37][38][39][40]. Coloured photographs of wildlife have been shown to increase conservation donations compared to black and white images, highlighting that colour may also have a role in engagement with wildlife photographs [41]. ...
Article
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Wildlife populations are vanishing at alarmingly high rates. This issue is being addressed by organisations around the world and when utilizing social media sites like Instagram, images are potentially more powerful than words at conveying crucial conservation messages and garnering public support. However, different elements of these images have been shown to potentially have either positive or negative effects on viewers’ attitudes and behaviours towards wildlife and towards the organisation posting the image. This study used a quantitative content analysis to assess the most common and engaging elements of wildlife images posted to Instagram in 2020 and 2021, using Australian conservation organisations as a case study. A total of 670 wildlife images from the Instagram accounts of 160 conservation organisation Instagram accounts were coded and analysed. Results highlight that the most common image elements used included natural backgrounds, mammals and birds, and no human presence. In addition, it was found that the taxon of the animal featured in a post and the presence of humans did not impact engagement levels. Our findings highlight the potential for Instagram posts to feature and promote a wide range of currently underrepresented species, and for conservation organisations to be able to confidently share and post images that promote positive perceptions of both the animal and the conservation organisation
... Studied variables include naturalness and interactiveness of the exhibits (e.g. Swanagan 2000;Ballantyne et al. 2007, 372;Ross et al. 2012;Lukas & Ross 2014), animal activity and eye contact with the animals (Powell & Bullock 2014), animal charisma (Smith & Sutton 2008), interpretation of conservation (by guides) (Jacobs & Harms 2014) or duration of stay (Smith & Broad 2008). The post-visit material has also proved important (e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
Zoos nowadays often claim that their main objective is nature conservation and that they strive to educate the visitors on this subject. A considerable amount of research has been undertaken on conservation education in zoos. This overview performs a qualitative meta-analysis of the methodology, concepts and results of research articles on zoo visitors, particularly regarding learning, education and conservation. Our main finding is that most of the research uses quantitative methodologies and the qualitative, lived experiences of zoo visits remain under-researched. Based on the articles analyzed, “nature conservation” (the substance of conservation education in zoos) becomes implicitly defined as captive breeding and far-off conservation projects, distancing the visitors and their daily lives from nature and issues of conservation.
... Indeed, zoos enrich animal habitats not only to increase their wellbeing, but also because the occupants of the enriched enclosures would be more likely to display a wide range of species-typical behaviors that are attractive to the visitors (Robinson 1998). Surveys of zoo visitors indeed demonstrated that they prefer naturalistic exhibits Tofield et al. 2003), and that such naturalistic exhibits may be more effective than less naturalistic ones in increasing concern for animals (Lukas and Ross 2014). ...
Thesis
With the on-going biodiversity crisis, growing urban lifestyles decrease opportunities to experience nature. However, an intimate relationship with nature has various benefits, for individual well-being, health or attention restoration, but also for environmental issues. Much research effort explored the extent to which people feel being part of the natural world, and thus focused more recently on the importance of reconnecting people – especially urban dwellers – with nature and conservation issues, through experiences of nature. In this work, we investigated whether zoos could participate in such reconnection. We used an interdisciplinary approach, with concepts and methods from conservation biology, anthropology, social and conservation psychology, psychoacoustics, and ecological economics. We first explored whether zoos were considered as natural places. Then, we looked more closely at people’s perception of nature at the zoo, from both visual and auditory perspectives. Comparative analysis between zoo visitors and urban park users allowed us investigate the impact of the zoo visit on sense of connection to nature and conservation attitudes. Finally, we focused on pro-conservation behaviors at the zoo through the analysis of animal choice and amount of donations of participants to an animal adoption program at the zoo. This work demonstrates that although the zoo is considered and used as a natural place, it does not affect sense of connection to nature. However, compared to a visit to an urban green park, the zoo visit has the potential to raise conservation attitudes, through connectedness to nature. Additionally, despite an emphasis on captive, exotic species at the zoo, visitors also seemed to perceive urban wildlife. Nevertheless, unlike conservation attitudes, the contribution of the zoo in enhancing pro-conservation behaviors remains doubtful. To conclude, this PhD project highlighted that in the process of reconnecting people to nature and conservation issues, zoos undoubtedly provide one type of experience of nature to urban dwellers, that should be considered along with other types of experiences of nature, e.g. woodlands, especially because zoos are institutions that target a very large and diverse part of the population, worldwide.
... A mesma sugestão se aplica a ecossistemas como Cerrado e Desertos. Se as atitudes são formadas com as experiências e se tornam estáveis ao longo do tempo (Lukas, Ross, 2014), então o ensino pode ser organizado de modo a favorecer a formação de visões mais diversificadas. ...
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Investigando as atitudes de alunos de uma escola secundária da Amazônia brasileira, observamos, por exemplo, que não há diferenças estatisticamente significativas na atitude estética dos alunos em relação a Cerrado (um tipo brasileiro de Savana) e Desertos. Oceanos, mesmo não fazendo parte da geografia local, sobressaíram-se em relação ao Cerrado, em todos os casos. As evidências indicaram ainda que a Floresta Amazônia é o ecossistema mais apreciado pelos alunos. Em relação aos Seres Vivos, as atitudes dos alunos para Microorganismos foram mais negativistas que a Plantas e Animais, enquanto que esses últimos se destacaram mais em atitudes dos tipos utilitarista, estética, ecológica e naturalista. Sugerimos a importância de atividades educativas que valorizem a formação de atitudes culturalmente diversas em relação aos organismos e aos ecossistemas pouco apreciados pelos alunos.
... The design of naturalistic animal environments in many modern zoos strives to match both the functional and the aesthetic aspects of natural settings 29 -so that the enclosures work well for the animals and also appear naturalistic to zoo visitors, which has been shown to provide added educational value. 21 However, even in naturalistic zoo enclosures, the animals sometimes prefer non-naturalistic components of their environment. For example, even in large outdoor enclosures with grass and trees, gorillas preferred being near their holding building, a very unnatural element of their enclosure, and most of the gorillas spent more time than would be expected near walls in their enclosure. ...
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The American Society of Primatologists (ASP), the Association of Primate Veterinarians (APV), and the American College of Laboratory Animal Medicine (ACLAM) have come together to develop this position statement in which the term "functionally appropriate nonhuman primate environments" is proposed as a better descriptor and as an alternative to the previously used term, "ethologically appropriate environments" to describe environments that are suitable for nonhuman primates involved in biomedical research. In 2015, the United States Department of Agriculture requested comments on a petition which called for amending the Animal Welfare Act so that all research primates would be housed in "ethologically appropriate physical and social environments." We are critical of this term because: (1) it does not provide clarification beyond that in current regulatory language; (2) it does not provide for balance between animal welfare goals and the reasons why the primates are housed in captivity; (3) it discounts the adaptability that is inherent in the behavior of primates; (4) it conveys that duplication of features of the natural environment are required for suitable holding environments; (5) objective studies reveal that environments that appear to be more ethologically appropriate do not necessarily better meet the needs of animals; and (6) using the term "ethology" is inherently confusing. We propose that the term "functionally appropriate nonhuman primate environments" be used instead, as it emphasizes how environments work for nonhuman primates, it better describes current activities underway to improve nonhuman primate welfare, and the balance that is achieved between meeting the needs of the animals and the requirements of the research in which they are involved.
... Research (primarily on gorilla exhibits) has demonstrated the importance of naturalistic zoo environments for inspiring emotional connections with animals and enhancing the perception of these species by the public. For instance, Lukas and Ross (2014) found that exposure to a modern great ape exhibit resulted in significant and positive attitudinal shifts concerning these species. ...
... These new-wave exhibits often include information about the animals themselves as well as conservation issues. Feeding techniques have also changed to mimic real life scenarios, and it is believed that observing this natural behavior will increase visitors understanding of the animal and foster conservation (Ballantyne et al., 2007;Lukas & Ross, 2014). ...
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This analysis investigated relationships between experiences with edutainment elements of Walt Disney World and SeaWorld parks in Orlando, FL and perceptions of natural resource uses. While prior studies have focused on museums, zoos, and other attractions, little attention has been paid to locations recognized as primarily entertainment. A sample of 833 U.S. residents were asked about their perceptions of natural resources. Those having visited either SeaWorld Orlando or Walt Disney World had higher levels of agreement than non-visitors that marine and wild mammals can be ethically kept. However, visitors had lower levels of agreement that livestock animals could be ethically raised for meat, sparking questions about self-selection biases and/or associations with visiting/viewing versus consuming animals. Uncertainty about future availability of public support for research, education, and engagement on natural resource use and conservation provide continued incentives for furthering entertaining educational venues to engage the public.
... However, there is limited research on the factors that determine the impact of a zoo experience on visitor behavior and attitudes (Lukas & Ross, 2014;Marino et al., 2010). Characteristics of the visitor (gender, age, or personality), characteristics of the animals (species, or levels of activity), and the interpretation available at an exhibit are all likely to shape the visitor experience and their engagement with conservation education (Fraser et al., 2009;Roe & McConney, 2015). ...
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Understanding how visitor engagement with interpretation impacts on their attitudes to conservation is necessary to develop effective zoo-based conservation education. We examined whether facilitating an emotional connection between a visitor and an individual chimpanzee (Pan troglodytes) was more successful at enhancing attitudes than standard zoo interpretation. Attitudes were assessed post visit using a 12-item questionnaire on predisposition toward nature, attitudes to chimpanzees, and conservation. Visitors at two chimpanzee exhibits were allocated to an emotion enhancement condition (n = 227) or a control condition (n = 203). At one exhibit, visitors were also allocated to an interactive task (location) without emotional enhancement (n = 69). Participants were also recruited to an online control condition (n = 216). Principal component analyses identified two components labeled as Naturalistic, which refers to interest and affection for wildlife and nature, and Humanistic, which refers to interest and affection for individual animals or species with anthropomorphic characteristics. At one exhibit, both Naturalistic and Humanistic attitudes were significantly more positive following the emotion enhancement condition than for the control condition. At the other exhibit, Naturalistic and Humanistic components did not differ between conditions, and there was no overall difference between online and on-site conditions. While emotional enhancement may be effective in promoting pro-conservation attitudes, this is dependent on contextual factors (e.g., exhibit design and interpretation). Attitudes were also influenced by stable visitor characteristics (pet ownership and zoo membership) and are therefore likely to prove difficult to change, at least during a single zoo visit. Visitor and animal characteristics, and the interpretation of the exhibit all shape the visitor experience; understanding these interactions is important in facilitating effective zoo conservation education.
... However, if the direct experience offered by this immersion exhibit led to an increase in connectedness to nature, it follows that immersion exhibits and experiences may also lead to an increase in positive attitudes and positive emotions. Lukas and Ross (2014) did find that naturalistic zoo exhibits were more likely to lead to attitude change than traditional zoo exhibits. Likewise, the study also used a purposive sample of visitors that self-selected to see the exhibit. ...
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Nature centers, museums, zoos, and other exhibit-based institutions need to sustain or increase visitation for economic viability. To generate visitor interest, exhibits have become more interactive, with immersion exhibits becoming increasingly popular. Visitor research has traditionally focused on learning or social aspects of the visitor experience rather than psychological dimensions related to attitudes, values, and behaviors. Yet nature-focused institutions increasingly support broad-based issues, such as encouraging connection to nature and environmentally responsible behavior. This paper explores how an immersion exhibit without personal interpretation, impacts connectedness to nature, intentions for environmentally responsible behaviors, and other aspects of visitor experiences. Short visits to a free-flying butterfly exhibit were found to augment visitors’ connectedness to nature and environmentally responsible behavioral intentions. Visitors also described how they appreciated the intensely beautiful surroundings, were awe-struck, felt a great deal of peace and relaxation, and felt oneness with nature.
... Variances in program success could additionally be explained by contextual factors specific to the program setting and/or features of the target behaviour. In terms of setting, for instance, naturalistically-designed enclosures appear to more effectively improve attitudes toward the conservation of African apes than traditional exhibits (Lukas & Ross, 2014). With regard to differences in target behaviour, translation into action might be more successful when the desired actions are: performed on-site; not physically, mentally, or time demanding (e.g., recycling waste vs. riding a bike to work to reduce carbon footprint); new or based on new knowledge; and accompanied with an explanation of the effect of the behaviour (Smith, Curtis, & Van Dijk, 2010). ...
Article
Zoo conservation-education programs have potential to address biodiversity loss, although evidence of their effectiveness to encourage social change is in its infancy. Moreover, how a program is implemented may influence program efficacy, yet there is little evidence of the factors that shape this process in zoos. Accordingly, through a process evaluation of Zoos Victoria’s ‘When Balloons Fly” (WBF) conservation-education program against marine debris, we identified barriers and enablers to the implementation of the program which can be addressed to improve future initiatives. Between April-May 2018, 24 Zoos Victoria professionals completed an online survey focussed on identifying challenges and successes in implementing WBF. Four participants additionally completed a follow-up telephone interview. Themes were identified and organised according to the model of diffusion in service organisations (Greenhalgh et al., 2004). Our results illuminate that features of the organisation (e.g., structure, culture) rather than features of individuals (e.g., skills, motivation) or characteristics of the conservation-education program itself (e.g., messaging), were most influential to implementation success. Based on these findings, attention to the organisational context is critical for promoting and evaluating the success of conservation-education programs and must be given significant attention alongside program characteristics and staff capability to deliver them.
... Also the influence on conservation and environmental attitudes of visits to zoos without an additional environmental education program or visits to a zoo exhibition has been documented (e.g. Lukas and Ross 2014;Pavitt and Moss 2019;Pearson et al. 2014;Wagner et al. 2009;Yalowitz 2004). Additionally, a study by Lukas and Ross (2005) showed that multiple visits to the zoo reinforce this positive effect. ...
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In the past decades, zoos have increasingly developed into conservation and education centers and today make an important contribution to environmental education. In this context, this study investigated which factors influence attitudes towards species conservation. The variables examined were gender, age, the number of visits to zoos in the last 12 months, perception of zoos, interest in animals and the country where the survey was conducted. A total of 3347 participants in seven different countries were surveyed. In the hierarchical multiple regression, it was found that all the variables examined were significant influencing factors with exception of gender. A mediator analysis provided evidence that the number of visits to zoos, in addition to the direct effect on attitudes towards species conservation, also has a relevant indirect effect with interest in animals as mediators. Significant differences in attitudes towards species conservation were found between some of the countries studied, but only with a small effect sizes.
... One of the factors that has received a considerable amount of research has been the impacts of zoo enclosure design on visitors (Bitgood et al., 1988;Finlay et al., 1988;Davey, 2006;de Young et al., 2011;Shettel-Neuber, 1988). For example, 'naturalistic' enclosures that promote the welfare of zoo animals have been found to be associated with increased positive visitor perceptions of and attitudes towards zoo animals, their welfare and improved visitor experiences (Coe, 1985;Finlay et al., 1988;Luebke et al., 2016;Lukas & Ross, 2014;Melfi et al., 2004;Nakamichi, 2007;Packer et al., 2018;Rhoads & Goldsworthy, 1979;Tofield et al., 2003;Wolf & Tymitz, 1981;Yilmaz et al., 2010;2017). Free-range enclosures, which promote natural or species-specific behavior in zoo animals, have also been shown to improve visitor perceptions of the welfare of zoo animals, visitor experience and increase visitor viewing times (Bryan et al., 2017;Mun et al., 2013;Price et al., 1994;Wilson et al., 2003). ...
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Animal-Visitor Interactions (AVIs) have become commonplace in zoological institutions and facilities globally. However, most AVI research focuses on the effects of visitors on the welfare of animals, with considerably less studies examining the visitor experience itself. Furthermore, robust evaluations of the efficacy of zoo education programs and engagements for increasing visitor awareness of conservation issues, and for fostering long-term pro-conservation behavior changes in them, are under researched. This paper reviews the current literature that pertains to the effects of zoo visitation and AVIs on visitor perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes. We briefly note some of the known effects that zoo visitors have on zoo animals, and conversely explore the effects that factors such as enclosure design, animal visibility and behaviors, and AVIs can have on visitors' overall experience whilst attending the zoo. We suggest that future research needs to more closely examine the relationships and interactions between zoo visitors and zoo animals; why some zoo visitors maintain repeat visitation over others; what the differences in beliefs and attitudes may be between "zoo visitors" and "non-zoo visitors" (i.e., other general public); and to make a concerted effort to 2 understand: (1) what visitors are doing after they leave the zoo, and (2) whether visitors are adopting long-term pro-conservation behaviors into their daily lives. We further suggest that future research needs to start investigating indirect measures related to the visitor experience, such as: (a) individual conservation support outside of the zoo; (b) internet activity; (c) changes in sustainable purchasing practices related to knowledge gains; (d) financial investment in sustainable or ethical companies after knowledge gains; (e) and the longitudinal effects of zoo visits.
... One of the factors that has received a considerable amount of research has been the impact of zoo enclosure design on visitors (Bitgood et al., 1988;Finlay et al., 1988;Davey, 2006b;de Young et al., 2011;Shettel-Neuber, 1988). For example, 'naturalistic' enclosures that promote the welfare of zoo animals are associated with increased positive visitor perceptions of and attitudes towards zoo animals, their welfare, and improved visitor experiences (Coe, 1985;Finlay et al., 1988;Luebke et al., 2016;Lukas & Ross, 2014;Melfi et al., 2004;Nakamichi, 2007;Packer et al., 2018;Rhoads & Goldsworthy, 1979;Tofield et al., 2003;Wolf & Tymitz, 1981;Yilmaz et al., 2010Yilmaz et al., , 2017. Free-range enclosures, which promote natural or species-specific behavior in zoo animals, have also been shown to improve visitor perceptions of the welfare of zoo animals, visitor experience and increase visitor viewing times (Bryan et al., 2017;Mun et al., 2013;Price et al., 1994;Wilson et al., 2003). ...
Article
Full-text available
Animal-Visitor Interactions (AVIs) have become commonplace in zoological institutions and facilities globally. However, most AVI research focuses on the effects of visitors on the welfare of animals, with considerably fewer studies examining the visitor experience itself. Furthermore, robust evaluations of the efficacy of zoo education programs and engagements for increasing visitor awareness of conservation issues, and for fostering long-term pro-conservation behavior changes in them, are under-researched. This paper reviews the current literature that pertains to the effects of zoo visitation and AVIs on visitor perceptions, beliefs, and attitudes. We briefly note some of the known effects that zoo visitors have on zoo animals, then explore the effects that factors such as enclosure design, animal visibility and behaviors, and AVIs can have on visitors' overall experience whilst attending the zoo. We suggest that future research needs to more closely examine the relationships and interactions between zoo visitors and zoo animals; why some zoo visitors over others repeat visitation; what the differences in beliefs and attitudes may be between "zoo visitors" and "non-zoo visitors" (i.e., other general public); and to make a concerted effort to understand: (1) what visitors do after they leave the zoo, and (2) whether visitors adopt long-term pro-conservation behaviors into their daily lives. We further suggest that future research needs to start investigating indirect measures related to the visitor experience, such as: (a) individual conservation support outside of the zoo; (b) internet activity; (c) changes in sustainable purchasing practices related to knowledge gains; (d) financial investment in sustainable or ethical companies after knowledge gains; (e) and the longitudinal effects of zoo visits.
... Zoos adopt many strategies to connect people with wildlife. Many zoos offer visitors the opportunity to view animals in naturalistic zoo exhibits [50,51]. Additionally, many zoos facilitate up-close experiences with animals, and these experiences may or may not involve physical contact between visitors and the animals [52]. ...
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The trade and private ownership of non-domesticated animals has detrimental effects on individual animals and their wild populations. Therefore, there is a need to understand the conditions that motivate and dissuade interest in non-domesticated pet ownership. Past research has demonstrated that the way in which non-domesticated animals are portrayed in images influences the public’s perception that they are suitable as pets. We conducted an online survey of people residing in the United States to investigate how viewing images that could be realistically captured in the zoo and broader tourism industries impact the degree to which people report interest in having that animal as a pet. We focused on two species, reticulated pythons ( Malayopython reticulatus ) and two-toed sloths ( Choloepus hoffmanni ), and presented each species in six different visual contexts. After viewing an image, respondents reported interest in pet ownership on a four-point Likert scale. Each species was studied separately in a between-subjects design and results were analyzed using ordinal logistic regression models. Thirty-nine percent of respondents reported interest in sloth pet ownership, and 21% reported interest in python pet ownership. However, contrary to our hypotheses, we found that viewing these species in different visual contexts did not significantly affect survey respondents’ reported interest in having either species as a pet. Generation was a significant predictor of interest in both sloth and python pet ownership, with younger generations reporting more interest in having these species as pets. Male respondents reported more interest in python pet ownership, whereas there were no significant differences between genders regarding interest in sloth ownership. We consider how modern media exposure to animals in unnatural contexts may relate to the generational effect and discuss priorities for future research to better understand the development of individual interests in non-domesticated pet ownership.
Article
Communicating the topic of conservation to the public and encouraging proenvironmental behaviors can mitigate loss of biodiversity. Thus, the evaluation of educational efforts is important to ascertain the educational effects and provide high-quality conservation education. The learning outcomes of conservation education are diverse (e.g., attitudes, knowledge, and behavior). Considering the specific characteristics of these different outcomes and the factors that influence them is crucial to delivering successful conservation education. We reviewed 29 peer-reviewed articles published in English from January 2011 to April 2020 on empirical studies of learning outcomes of on-site conservation education in zoos and aquaria, institutions that seek to educate the public about conservation. We examined the range of learning outcomes, their definitions, and factors that influenced them. Cognitive outcomes were most frequently investigated (37%) in comparison with other outcomes (e.g., affective outcomes, 31%). The articles did not use explicit definitions for learning outcomes, and implicit or explorative definitions provided were inconsistent. Outcomes were influenced by various factors (e.g., prior experiences, staff interaction, animal behavior). Our results suggest the agenda of conservation education research should be broadened by examining all learning outcomes relevant to behavior change. Educational and behavior change theories should be used as a background for conservation education research to ensure clear and consistent definitions, derive appropriate instruments to measure learning outcomes, and relate learning outcomes to influencing factors. We recommend conservation education researchers and practitioners to treat conservation education holistically and acknowledge its learning outcomes' full complexity.
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In this article, we report on a video-based field study of an intergenerational family’s enactment of a mathematical object (a torus) in the context of an immersive mathematics exhibition in a science center. To do this, we center interwoven, multi-party mobilities at multiple scales–walking, gesturing, touching, and postural adjustments – as key aspects of how family members co-assemble a local, multi-layered set of meanings for a mathematical object. Drawing on and blending approaches from science and technology studies and interaction analysis we investiage how immersive museum exhibitions can enable particular patterns of visitor mobility and provisionally reconfigure relations among walking, sensing, and knowing. In contrast to what we describe as a sedentarist bias in studies of learning and cognition in museums, we argue that walking and other movements across a wide range of scales are constitutive of visitors’ interpretive accomplishments, rather than mere backdrop to them.
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Applying environmental education in primate range countries is an important long-term activity to stimulate pro-conservation behavior. Within captive settings, mega-charismatic species, such as great apes are often used to increase knowledge and positively influence attitudes of visitors. Here, we evaluate the effectiveness of a short-term video and theater program developed for a Western audience and adapted to rural people living in two villages around Nouabalé-Ndoki National Park, Republic of Congo. We assessed the knowledge gain and attitude change using oral evaluation in the local language (N = 111). Overall pre-program knowledge about Western gorillas (Gorilla gorilla) was high. Detailed multivariate analysis of pre-program knowledge revealed differences in knowledge between two villages and people with different jobs while attitudes largely were similar between groups. The short-term education program was successful in raising knowledge, particularly of those people with less pre-program knowledge. We also noted an overall significant attitude improvement. Our data indicate short-term education programs are useful in quickly raising knowledge as well improving attitudes. Furthermore, education messages need to be clearly adapted to the daily livelihood realities of the audience, and multi-variate analysis can help to identify potential target groups for education programs.
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In this study, we analyzed the opinions of primary-school children from Portugal and Spain about zoos. The sample consisted of 560 pupils, mean age 11.38 years and in the 6th grade of schooling. For the purpose of this study, a two-part questionnaire was designed. In the first part, children were asked to name up to three positive and negative aspects of these institutions. Special attention was given to aspects related to animal welfare. In the second part, they had to express their opinion about 18 statements relating to different perspectives toward zoos: six were anthropocentric statements (in favor of zoos), six were biocentric (against zoos), and six ecocentric (partially supporting their existence). The results were analyzed for the whole sample but also according to the children’s country, gender, and type of visit (with school or exclusively with parents and relatives). Children tended to highlight the facilities and the amusements on offer, but the contact with animals and the way animals are treated were also in evidence. On the whole, the children supported the existence of zoos, and disagreed more often with the biocentric statements. Even so, the Spanish children, as compared with the Portuguese, were more in agreement with the biocentric perspective. However, children who went to zoos in a formal context (school visit) tended to be more anthropocentric than the ones who went with family/relatives. This tendency may be related to the fact that school contents tend to highlight the educational and conservationist roles of zoos and focus less on the controversial dimension associated with these places. But this tendency needs further research.
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Zoológicos empíricos representam o presente e o futuro na manutenção de animais em cativeiro para visitação, e se baseiam em evidências e experiências prévias para a tomada de decisões. Para que haja dados, as pesquisas científicas são necessárias, assim como associações com universidades, estudantes e pesquisadores. Esses estudos focam nos recintos, nos visitantes, no comportamento animal e visam, principalmente, o bem-estar para os exemplares cativos. Ao colocar o bem-estar como prioridade, os zoológicos também contribuem para a conservação. Este artigo tem como objetivo realizar uma revisão bibliográfica acerca do zoológico empírico e suas perspectivas.
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This study explored how the physical context of a species enclosure might affect visitor exploration of the exhibit space. Tracking and timing studies were conducted in 2 different designs of an exhibition space focused on African apes to determine if the new, more naturally designed exhibit was explored in a manner different from the former, more traditionally designed space. Observations of 825 individuals demonstrated that visitors spent 59% more time within the more naturalistic setting and moved more slowly through the space compared with the more traditional structure. In addition, significantly fewer visitors engaged in inappropriate glass tapping within the new space. The naturalistic design seemed to affect certain groups more than others, as females tended to have longer visit durations and adults tended to observe the resident apes more than children. This research highlights the importance of physical context to the overall learning experience of visitors to zoos and assists in understanding the links between sensory experiences and science content.
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Zoos are the most important way of learning about animals for people. They are also effective educational environments for natural habitats of animals. Zoo design must be a successful exhibit of animals identical to their natural habitats. Therefore, the image of people about animals in natural settings can appropriately be formed. This study investigated whether the areas in which the animals are exhibited make any difference on the perceptions of visitors. The study has two stages, comprised of two questionnaire survey carried out with 420 zoo visitors. In the first stage, the reasons for visiting zoo and visitor preferences of exhibits were determined. In the second stage, we determined how spatial differences of zoo exhibits influence visitor perceptions. The collected data were analyzed using chi-square test, t test, and factor analysis. Results suggested that, spatial differences of zoo exhibits have significant influences on visitor perceptions. Animals exhibited in the semi-natural settings of the zoo are perceived as if they are in a natural setting, while animals in the caged exhibits that are perceived totally different from their natural living environment. The results have also shown that people visit the zoo for educational purposes especially for their children.
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This study investigated the effects of performing animal-training sessions with Asian small-clawed otters (Aonyx cinerea) while zoo visitors watched. The effects of having an interpreter present to describe the otters and their training on zoo visitors were also assessed. The data from 389 visitors to Zoo Atlanta’s otter exhibit were analyzed, and exhibit stay times and animal activity levels were recorded during four conditions (passive exhibit viewing, interpretation-only sessions, public animal- training sessions, and public animal training with interpretation sessions). The findings suggest that public animal training and public animal training with interpretation produce more positive zoo experiences, training perceptions, exhibit size and staff assessments, and longer visitor exhibit stay times when compared to passive exhibit viewing and interpretation-only sessions. This study quantifies an outcome of positive reinforcement training beyond its effects on animals and extends the benefits to zoo visitors by providing information on how to increase positive perceptions and experiences for zoological park visitors.
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Efforts to meet the welfare needs of captive animals (such as the provision of environmental enrichment and naturalistic furnishings) often compromise visitors’ needs (naturalistic exhibits often decrease the visibility of animals on display even though visitors pay to view them). The literature offers different predictions about how zoo visitors respond to decreased animal visibility in naturalistic exhibits but they require further evaluation. Further, visitor research is currently confined to Europe and America and studies outside these areas are limited. This paper investigates the relationships between exhibit naturalism, animal visibility and visitor interest in a Chinese Zoo. Visitor interest was observed at both naturalistic and barren exhibit designs. The study showed that the influence of animal presence on visitor behaviours was similar at both exhibit designs. Further, visitor interest was not compromised at the naturalistic exhibit when animals were not visible. The results demonstrate that the needs of animals and visitors can be balanced at naturalistic exhibits and support the transformation of exhibits to those representing naturalistic environments.
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Eleven semantic differential scales were developed to assess the effects of contextual setting on peoples' perceptions of animals. The scales were given to subjects viewing slides of eight species of animals in either the wild, naturalistic zoo, or caged zoo environments. A control group, which saw no slides, also rated the animals. The ratings on the semantic differential scales were the dependent measure, while the four contexts and eight animals were the independent variables. Three hypotheses were tested: (1) the zoo group animals would be rated significantly different from, and less favorably, than all other conditions-wild, naturalistic zoo, and control; (2) the naturalistic zoo group would be rated significantly different from, and less favorably, than the wild animal group across all species; and (3) there would be differences in the ratings of the animals within conditions. Data were analyzed using canonical discriminant analysis. Results generally supported all three hypotheses. Zoo animals were seen as restricted, tame, and passive while wild animals were characterized as free, wild, and active. Results are discussed with reference to exhibit evaluations and the influence of exhibits on visitors' attitudes and perceptions.
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The authors investigated the current practices for assessing mission-related learning outcomes at institutions that belong to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in North America. A survey instrument was sent to 207 education directors in order to examine each institution's efforts in conducting audience research and evaluating the impact of their mission. Survey results from 97 institutions revealed that a large proportion of zoos and aquaria conduct visitor research; however, most only collect measures related to operational performance and not measures concerning mission-related learning outcomes such as knowledge gains, affective reactions to animals, or intended conservation actions. Large institutions tended to collect more information than smaller institutions. Most responding institutions also indicated a need for additional data to evaluate their mission performance. Not surprisingly, the most prevalent barriers for conducting visitor research were found to be inadequate staffing capacity and budgets. Most institutions clearly understand the need for additional mission-related research efforts. Because most institutions already conduct some audience research, incremental efforts, such as pooling resources or common measuring standards could yield deeper understanding of the mission performance in zoos and aquaria.
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The success of zoos and aquariums as conservation centres depends on the holistic embrace of conservation, including acting as model citizen, wildlife conservationist, agent for conservation and mentor/trainer. Success also depends on truly reaching our audiences, from policy-maker to land manager to citizen, to help them care about and care for nature. In pursuing our conservation goal, we must acknowledge our general lack of experience in effectively changing the behaviour of these different audiences, which function at both the global and local level. To start with those closest to us, the visitors to our institutions, we should appreciate that we do not have deep understanding of the effect our business has on them by providing close-up experiences with a variety of animals. Nevertheless, by the caring ways in which we express biophilia and carry out particular conservation activities, our institutions can become transformative models, inspiring and motivating urban people around the globe to have a more harmonious and sustainable relationship with the natural world.
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Most people visit a science center in order to satisfy specific leisure-related needs; needs which may or may not actually include science learning. Falk proposed that an individual's identity-related motivations provide a useful lens through which to understand adult free-choice science learning in leisure settings. Over a 3-year period the authors collected in-depth data on a random sample of visitors to a large recently opened, hands-on, interactive science center; collecting information on why people visited, what they did within the science center, what they knew about the subject presented upon entering and exiting, and what each individual's long-term self-perceptions of their own learning was. Presented is a qualitative analysis of visitor interviews collected roughly 2 years after the initial visit. Although there was evidence for a range of science learning outcomes, outcomes did appear to be strongly influenced by visitor's entering identity-related motivations. However, the data also suggested that not only were the motivational goals of a science center visit important in determining outcomes, so too were the criteria by which visitors judged satisfaction of those goals; in particular whether goal satisfaction required external or merely internal validation. The implications for future informal science education research and practice are discussed. © 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. J Res Sci Teach 47:194–212, 2010
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The purpose of this paper is to encourage the application of theories of human behavior to zoo design so that zoo visitors are environmentally predisposed to learn from and enjoy what they experience. The ultimate goal is to increase public awareness and appreciation of the importance of habitat and its protection to wildlife conservation and to present zoo animals in such a way that their reason for being and rights to existence are intuitively self-evident to viewers. Many of the concepts and guidelines presented appear to be suitable subjects of behavioral research, whose findings would assist designers and other zoo professionals in continued improvement of the zoo visitor's experience.
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Modern-day zoos and aquariums market themselves as places of education and conservation. A recent study conducted by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) (Falk et al., 2007) is being widely heralded as the fi rst direct evidence that visits to zoos and aquariums pro-duce long-term positive eff ects on people's attitudes toward other animals. In this paper, we address whether this conclusion is warranted by analyzing the study's methodological soundness. We conclude that Falk et al. (2007) contains at least six major threats to methodological validity that undermine the authors' conclusions. Th ere remains no compelling evidence for the claim that zoos and aquariums promote attitude change, education, or interest in conservation in visitors, although further investigation of this possibility using methodologically sophisticated designs is warranted.
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Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) are often used in movies, commercials and print advertisements with the intention of eliciting a humorous response from audiences. The portrayal of chimpanzees in unnatural, human-like situations may have a negative effect on the public's understanding of their endangered status in the wild while making them appear as suitable pets. Alternatively, media content that elicits a positive emotional response toward chimpanzees may increase the public's commitment to chimpanzee conservation. To test these competing hypotheses, participants (n = 165) watched a series of commercials in an experiment framed as a marketing study. Imbedded within the same series of commercials was one of three chimpanzee videos. Participants either watched 1) a chimpanzee conservation commercial, 2) commercials containing "entertainment" chimpanzees or 3) control footage of the natural behavior of wild chimpanzees. Results from a post-viewing questionnaire reveal that participants who watched the conservation message understood that chimpanzees were endangered and unsuitable as pets at higher levels than those viewing the control footage. Meanwhile participants watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees showed a decrease in understanding relative to those watching the control footage. In addition, when participants were given the opportunity to donate part of their earnings from the experiment to a conservation charity, donations were least frequent in the group watching commercials with entertainment chimpanzees. Control questions show that participants did not detect the purpose of the study. These results firmly support the hypothesis that use of entertainment chimpanzees in the popular media negatively distorts the public's perception and hinders chimpanzee conservation efforts.
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Chimpanzees are endangered in their native Africa but in the United States, they are housed not only in zoos and research centers but owned privately as pets and performers. In 2008, survey data revealed that the public is less likely to think that chimpanzees are endangered compared to other great apes, and that this is likely the result of media misportrayals in movies, television and advertisements. Here, we use an experimental survey paradigm with composite images of chimpanzees to determine the effects of specific image characteristics. We found that those viewing a photograph of a chimpanzee with a human standing nearby were 35.5% more likely to consider wild populations to be stable/healthy compared to those seeing the exact same picture without a human. Likewise, the presence of a human in the photograph increases the likelihood that they consider chimpanzees as appealing as a pet. We also found that respondents seeing images in which chimpanzees are shown in typically human settings (such as an office space) were more likely to perceive wild populations as being stable and healthy compared to those seeing chimpanzees in other contexts. These findings shed light on the way that media portrayals of chimpanzees influence public attitudes about this important and endangered species.
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Zoos and aquariums have shifted their focus over recent years, taking a much more active role in wildlife conservation and in promoting conservation learning among their visitors. Research in these settings provides a valuable foundation for the emerging field of non-captive wildlife tourism. In particular, valuable lessons regarding the potential impact of wildlife encounters on visitors’ conservation attitudes and behaviour can be drawn from research in zoos and aquariums. This paper explores those aspects of wildlife encounters that appear to contribute most to conservation learning. These include observing animals in their ‘natural’ environment; opportunities for close encounters with wildlife; opportunities to observe animal behaviour; engaging visitors emotionally; connecting with visitors’ prior knowledge and experiences; using persuasive communication; linking conservation goals and everyday actions; and providing incentives and activities to support visitors’ behaviour change. The extent to which wildlife tourists may be receptive to conservation messages is also considered, in light of research in zoos and aquariums. The implications of these findings for conservation learning in the context of non-captive wildlife tourism are discussed and suggestions for future research in this area are made. Several methodological challenges facing the field are also discussed.
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As zoos have sought to further their conservation missions, they have become powerful providers of environmental education. Outside of "formal" education initiatives, such as those designed for school and other organized groups, or structured public talks programmes, much of the learning potential that the zoo has to offer is around the viewing of animals and the response of visitors to them. In this, zoo learning is a very personal construct, develops from the previous knowledge, and experiences and motivations of each individual. In this article, we make the assertion that learning potential, although difficult to quantify, is very much related to the attractiveness of animal species and the interest that visitors show in them. Using standard behaviorist measures of attraction and interest (the proportion of visitors that stop and for how long), we analyzed the relative interest in 40 zoo species held in a modern UK zoo and the variables that are significant in predicting that popularity. Further to this, the suggestion is made that the zoo collection planning process could use such information to make more informed decisions about which species should be housed for their educational value. Taxonomic grouping was found to be the most significant predictor of visitor interest--that is, visitors were far more interested in mammals than any other group--although body size (length), increasing animal activity and whether the species was the primary or "flagship" species in an exhibit or not, were all found to have a significant bearing on visitor interest.
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Zoos and aquariums have recognized the importance of integrating living collections with personally delivered interpretation. One way for zoos to accomplish this is by conducting public animal training sessions accompanied by personal interpretation. Many institutions offer these types of interactions, but the term "interpretation" is used loosely and without clear definition. This exploratory study compared knowledge gain of individual students in three different fifth grade school groups visiting the Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, Michigan. Each group observed an animal training session, with two groups receiving two types of presentations and one group serving as a control group. Although hearing the same facts, the two treatment groups received different program types: an interpretive presentation and a fact-only presentation. The third group viewed the training session but received no presentation. Results showed that individuals who received the interpretive presentation retained more information immediately after the training session than individuals in either of the other two groups. This exploratory study suggests that using an interpretive presentation style is more effective in producing knowledge gain than fact-only presentations in informal learning environments such as zoos and aquariums.
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Despite the endangered status of the orangutan, very little research has sought to understand what people know about this species or the conservation challenges they face. As zoos are well placed to influence such understandings, the present study sought to explore knowledge following a visit to orangutan exhibits at three Australian zoos (N = 240). Two learning assessments were utilised, capturing (1) self-reported learning and (2) understandings in relation to the information zoos prioritise for inclusion on exhibit signage. The relationship between the latter, attitudes toward orangutans and intentions for future conservation behaviour were also explored. Higher knowledge scores were significantly (indirectly) associated with intentions for future conservation behaviour through higher attitudes (indirect effect = 0.15, std. error = .05, z = 3.12, p R 2 = 20.3). The importance of enhancing visitor understandings (e.g. through improved exhibit design and signage displays, and through encouraging repeat zoo visits) for conservation action is discussed.
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Visitors to zoos can be a potential source of stress to captive-housed primates, resulting in increased abnormal behaviour and intra-group aggression. Finding a way to screen primates from human visitors may be one method of decreasing stress and enhancing animal welfare. For this study, the behaviour of six zoo-housed gorillas was studied for one month during standard housing conditions (control condition) and for a further month following the installation of a camouflage net barrier to the viewing area of the exhibit (barrier condition). Visitors' (n = 200) perceptions of the animals and the exhibit were also recorded during each condition. The net barrier had a significant effect on some components of the gorillas' behaviour. The gorillas exhibited significantly lower levels of conspecific-directed aggression and stereotypic behaviours during the barrier than the control condition. The net barrier also had a slight effect on visitors' perceptions both of the animals and of their exhibit. The gorillas were considered to look more exciting and less aggressive during the barrier than the control condition. The exhibit was also considered to be more appropriate for visitors following the introduction of the camouflage netting. Overall, the addition of a screen such as camouflage netting could be considered a positive change, resulting in a reduction in those behaviours typically induced by large groups of visitors and an improvement in public perceptions of the animals and their environment.
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The authors conducted an evaluation of visitor knowledge and conservation attitudes toward African apes at Chicago's Lincoln Park Zoo. Using S. R. Kellert's and J. Dunlap's (1989) analysis of zoo visitor knowledge and attitudes as a model, they modified and administered a survey to 1,000 visitors to the ape facility. On average, visitors correctly answered 60% of knowledge questions, performed better on exit than entrance surveys, and correctly answered more chimpanzee- than gorilla-oriented questions. Older and more educated people performed better on knowledge questions than did younger and less educated people. The predominant attitude toward African apes was naturalistic and the least characteristic attitude was utilitarian. Attitudes toward chimpanzees differed from attitudes toward gorillas. There was no difference between entrance and exit surveys on attitudes, but repeat visitors exhibited more ecoscientistic attitudes than did first-time visitors. Higher education levels, and better performance on knowledge questions, were associated with increased knowledge of ape behavior and lower negativistic and dominionistic attitudes toward apes. These findings underscore the importance of both formal and informal educational experiences in improving knowledge of and attitudes toward African apes.
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This study explored how the physical context of a species enclosure might affect visitor exploration of the exhibit space. Tracking and timing studies were conducted in 2 different designs of an exhibition space focused on African apes to determine if the new, more naturally designed exhibit was explored in a manner different from the former, more traditionally designed space. Observations of 825 individuals demonstrated that visitors spent 59% more time within the more naturalistic setting and moved more slowly through the space compared with the more traditional structure. In addition, significantly fewer visitors engaged in inappropriate glass tapping within the new space. The naturalistic design seemed to affect certain groups more than others, as females tended to have longer visit durations and adults tended to observe the resident apes more than children. This research highlights the importance of physical context to the overall learning experience of visitors to zoos and assists in understanding the links between sensory experiences and science content.
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This study provides quantitative conclusions regarding the impact of specific exogenous factors on exhibit viewing time in zoological parks and discusses implications for exhibit design. Three features distinguish this analysis from previous research concerning viewing time: (a) Data collection was preceded by extensive field work, to identify more than 50 variables with potential effects on viewing time; (b) the results of ethnographic interview techniques were combined with on-site observation and objective data to quantify and scale relevant variables; and (c) multiple regression techniques were used to quantify and test unique quantitative effects of independent variables on observed viewing time. The analysis compares recorded viewing times of 501 individuals across 10 exhibits at six zoological parks.
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One view of environmental education suggests that its goal is to ‘develop a world population that … has the knowledge, skills, attitudes, motivations and commitment to work individually and collectively towards solutions of current problems and the prevention of new ones’ (UNESCO‐UNEP 1976). Embedded within this charge is the teaching of skills and motivations to implement skills, where a skill refers to performance of an act acquired through extended practice and training (Ericsson and Oliver 1995). However, it is often difficult to articulate clearly what skills we teach in conservation education and environmental education focusing on behavior change or influence. It can be equally challenging to describe the behaviors we are ultimately seeking, identified in the Tbilisi Declaration as ‘new patterns of behavior’ (UNESCO 1978). At a basic level, it is important to explore the grounding for teaching toward behavior – often referred to as behavior change – that supports the work of the field. This literature review attempts to provide a foundation for behavior‐related discussions in environmental and conservation education. A number of the behavior theories, concepts and models discussed in this review have been explored extensively elsewhere; therefore, this review is not exhaustive, but rather is intended to be broadly representative of the literature.
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Post-occupancy evaluation (POE) is defined as examination of the effectiveness for human users of occupied, designed environments. POEs generally focus on a single type of designed setting, tend to describe rather than manipulate, and are usually aimed at application. Within this wide focus, POEs vary considerably, and three conceptual dimensions-generality, breadth of focus, and applicability-are useful in cataloguing them. These dimensions are described and their implications for POE sponsorship and methods are discussed. Suggestions are proposed for future developments of the field.
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Empirical measures of animal behavior and space use within the captive environment can provide critical information about animals’ requirements, preferences and internal states. The trend toward naturalistic environments has shown promise in terms of behavioral benefits for animals such as great apes, and there have been several studies of the effects of complex environments on captive apes. However, few recent investigations have objectively compared environmental preferences between two distinct enclosures. In this study, we assessed how ape space use varied within and across two very different environments: an indoor, hardscape enclosure and an indoor/outdoor, naturalistic enclosure. Within-facility tests were conducted by comparing data from behavioral observations of the apes’ position in the enclosures to measurements of the space and the availability of individual environmental elements. Between-facility comparisons utilized electivity index calculations to assess both the degree of use for specific features and the degree to which these selections strengthened or weakened in the new facility. Both gorillas and chimpanzees showed significant structural preferences in the older, hardscape environment: positioning themselves by mesh barriers (chimpanzees: P=0.005; gorillas: P
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Chimpanzees and gorillas are the two most common species of great ape in captive facilities in North America. This study examined patterns of space use by 14 gorillas and six chimpanzees housed in similar non-naturalistic environments at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, IL. The location of each individual was recorded in relation to elements of the environment over a two-year period. These data were compared to volumetric measurements of the enclosures to determine “preferences” for particular environmental elements. Chimpanzees preferred the highest tier of the enclosure and the gorillas preferred the floor level. Both species showed preferences for doorways, corners and the mesh barriers adjacent to keeper areas. These data supplement data from wild populations of apes and provide information useful for those seeking to design new ape enclosures or renovate existing facilities.
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Post-occupancy evaluations (POE) of the built environment provide systematic information about the success or failure of environmental designs. Research instruments developed for application in human settings can also be adapted for use in zoos. The zoo environment must be evaluated for its impact on animal residents, zoo visitors and staff. Evaluations conducted by our Atlanta research team included studies of the Atlanta Zoo and zoos in nearby cities. The range of available methodologies are reviewed, and the unique constraints of zoo settings are discussed. Our studies indicate that naturalistic environments facilitate the expression of normal and complex animal behavior patterns and tend to enhance the visitor experience. POE represents an exciting new dimension in zoo research and promises to contribute to the success of future generations of zoo design.
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Using three different methods, this study investigated how zoo visitors behaved in response to both old and new exhibits of four nonhuman primate species and how they perceived these primates. On-site observations showed that zoo visitors were more likely to stop in front of new exhibits and spend more time viewing new exhibits compared with old exhibits. Response to an on-site questionnaire also showed that zoo visitors perceived primates in the new exhibits more positively than the same animals in the old exhibits. The results from these two types of local assessment indicate that the attractiveness and holding power of the new exhibits was greater than that of the old. However, the results of a questionnaire given to zoo visitors on leaving the zoo showed that the preference ranks of the visitors for the four primate species did not increase after the new exhibits were established, indicating that the new exhibits did not change the zoo visitors' perception of primates relative to other zoo animals. Using all three assessment methods appears to be of considerable value for the assessment of visitors' perceptions towards new exhibits in terms of both the immediate locality and the zoo as a whole.
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Abstract  There is little research about how visitors to zoos and aquariums respond emotionally to the animals they experience. The research that does exist has seldom been informed by current psychological literature on affect, which examines the nature and roles of sentiments, moods, emotions, and affective traits. Emotion is multidimensional: it focuses on a person's core goals; directs attention and interest; arouses the body for action; and integrates social group and cultural factors. It is thus a central component of meaning-making. This article provides an overview of the literature on emotion as it applies to human emotional responses to animals. Informed by this literature, this paper presents results from a research study conducted at a zoo. Subjects (279 adults) were each electronically paged once while viewing one of three zoo animals (snake, okapi, or gorilla). Subjects completed scales on 17 specific emotions, seven items measuring evaluation and arousal, and other scales and responses to the animal. Four patterns of emotions emerged, ranging from “equal opportunity” emotions to “highly selective” emotions. The variables that were most important in influencing emotions were not demographic ones, but the kind of animal, subject's emotionality, relation to the animal, and other items predicted by emotion theory. Implications for biophilia, conservation, and the study of emotional responses to animals are discussed.
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Abstract  Over the last 10 to 15 years, zoos and aquariums have set out to influence visitors' conservation-related knowledge, attitudes, affect, and behavior. In 2000, the Institute for Learning Innovation collaborated with Disney's Animal Kingdom (DAK) on a comprehensive baseline study conducted to assess the outcomes of a DAK experience on visitors in four areas: knowledge, attitudes, affect, and behavior. This article describes one aspect of the comprehensive study: an investigation of the long-term (two-to-three-month) impact of a visit to Conservation Station at Disney's Animal Kingdom on visitors' intended conservation action. The study used a behavior change model from the health arena: the Prochaska Model of Behavioral Change. The model proved helpful but had some drawbacks, suggesting the need to develop a more sensitive change model. The implications of this study could assist institutions in thinking about what audiences or messages to emphasize in order to influence behavior.
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The turn of the century appears to be a good time to examine the role of zoos and aquariums, both in the past and present, and to predict what role these organizations will play in animal management and conservation in the future. In this review three main trends are considered: (1) the loss of wildlife habitats and, therefore, wildlife, (2) the increase in the number of animal-welfare and animal-rights organizations, and (3) the continued urbanization of the Earth's human population. Several predictions and positive action points are given for each trend and if these are taken on board and developed, zoos and aquariums of the future may become leaders in conservation, education and science.
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This study assessed the potential of two types of primate exhibit both for enhancing zoo visitors' interest, knowledge, and enjoyment and for promoting conservation education. Visitors' reactions to a free-ranging group of cotton-top tamarins were compared with their responses to caged tamarins in three ways: 1) timing how long visitors spent at each exhibit, 2) recording the comments made by visitors about the exhibits, and 3) asking visitors to respond to questionnaires about the two exhibits. The results showed that the free-ranging group of tamarins provoked wider comment from members of the public than caged groups and that visitors were willing to spend much more time looking for and watching monkeys in trees than monkeys in cages. Visitors felt that improvements in the animals' welfare were obtained from allowing them to live free in the trees, thought that they could learn more from such groups than from caged animals, and enjoyed seeing the free-ranging tamarins more than the monkeys in cages. These results suggest that developing more naturalistic zoo exhibits can have considerable benefits not only for the animals involved, but also for public education in conservation issues. © 1994 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Article
This study at the National Aquarium in Baltimore (NAIB) was conducted to assess four key aspects of the visitor experience: (1) incoming conservation knowledge, attitudes, and behavior of NAIB visitors; (2) patterns of use and interaction with exhibition components throughout the NAIB; (3) exiting conservation knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors of visitors; and (4) over time, how the NAIB experience altered or affected individuals' conservation knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Three hundred six visitors participated in the study, which was conducted from March through July, 1999. The study utilized four data-collection techniques: (1) face-to-face interviews, (2) Personal Meaning Mapping (PMM), (3) tracking, and (4) follow-up telephone interviews. Participants were a self-selected population and were generally more knowledgeable about, more concerned about, and more involved in conservation-related issues than the general public. However, they were far from conservationists. Visitors in this study clearly absorbed the fundamental conservation message at the NAIB. In fact, the NAIB visit appeared to focus visitors' conservation-related thoughts, while also broadening their understanding of conservation. Changes in visitors' conservation knowledge, understanding, and interests by and large persisted over six to eight weeks after visiting NAIB. The NAIB experience also connected to visitors' lives in a variety of ways following their visit. However, these personal experiences rarely resulted in new conservation actions. In fact, their enthusiasm and emotional commitment to conservation (inspired during the NAIB visit) generally fell back to original levels, presumably in the absence of reinforcing experiences. The findings of this study are guiding subsequent investigations at the NAIB. More generally, the results suggest strategies to enhance current understanding of the impact free-choice learning institutions have on their visiting public.
Article
Studying the effects of moving animals to new enclosures is of value to both captive managers and to scientists interested in the complex interplay between environment and behavior. Great apes represent some of the greatest challenges in this regard. Given the cognitive sophistication of these species and the substantial investments in new primate facilities, these investigations are particularly important. Using post-occupancy evaluation (POE) methodology, we compared behavior exhibited by chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) and gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) in indoor hardscape-type exhibits to behavior of the same individuals in new naturalistic enclosures with outdoor access. In the new facility, chimpanzees showed decreases in the frequency of abnormal behaviors and visual monitoring of humans (attention behaviors) whereas gorillas exhibited reduced agonism as well as decreased attention behaviors. Both gorillas and chimpanzees demonstrated higher rates of inactivity after transfer to the new facility. All subjects in addition demonstrated transitory changes in behavior after the move to the new facility (higher rates of scratching in yr 1 than in subsequent years), indicating a period of acclimatization. Seasonal effects on feeding behavior and activity levels (both species were more active in the winter) were evident as well. The results indicate that behavioral adjustment to a new facility is an extended process for both species and that seasonal effects should be considered in longitudinal analyses of acclimatization. Behavioral patterns supported the benefits of naturalistic, functional exhibit spaces and the utility of post-occupancy evaluations in assessing captive animal welfare. KeywordsCaptive welfare–Great apes–Post-occupancy evaluation–Zoological exhibits
Article
A postoccupancy evaluation (POE) is a systematic assessment performed to examine the effectiveness of the built environment after occupation. Although POEs have been mainly used to examine the effectiveness of built environments for human usage, they can and should be adapted for use in zoological settings. Zoological exhibits have evolved from when hygiene concerns ruled design to current trends that involve elaborate exhibits that often cost millions of dollars. Thus, it is imperative to conduct evaluations to ensure that these exhibits function to meet the complex needs of all users. It is crucial to perform a comprehensive POE that focuses on all three user groups; animals, visitors, and staff. However, work in this field is limited. Animal research has tended to remain very primate-focused with differing opinions as to what constitutes optimal outcomes. Zoo visitor studies often have limited scope and differing methodologies. Additionally, research on zoo staff opinions and feedback is almost nonexistent. A new exhibit opening at a zoo has huge potential for improving the welfare of the animals it will house, enhancing the zoo visitor experience, and improving the workplace for zoo personnel. Building the best possible exhibits requires not only the analysis of how the built environment affects all three groups, but also dissemination of those findings to guide future design.
Article
Societies develop as a result of the interactions of individuals as they compete and cooperate with one another in the evolutionary struggle to survive and reproduce successfully. Gorilla society is arranged according to these different and sometimes conflicting evolutionary goals of the sexes. In seeking to understand why gorilla society exists as it does, Alexander H. Harcourt and Kelly J. Stewart bring together extensive data on wild gorillas, collected over decades by numerous researchers working in diverse habitats across Africa, to illustrate how the social system of gorillas has evolved and endured. Gorilla Society introduces recent theories explaining primate societies, describes gorilla life history, ecology, and social systems, and explores both sexes’ evolutionary strategies of survival and reproduction. With a focus on the future, Harcourt and Stewart conclude with suggestions for future research and conservation. An exemplary work of socioecology from two of the world’s best known gorilla biologists, Gorilla Society will be a landmark study on a par with the work of George Schaller—a synthesis of existing research on these remarkable animals and the societies in which they live.
Article
More and more, zoos are integrating behavioral enrichment programs into their management routines. Given the newness of such programs on an official level, however, there are an increasing number of enrichment decisions based on assumption. Enrichment is typically not provided on exhibit, especially for exhibits considered to be more naturalistic, because it is assumed to affect visitors' experience negatively. To test that assumption, visitors were interviewed in front of four exhibits—an outdoor barren grotto, an outdoor vegetated grotto, an indoor immersion exhibit, and an outdoor traditional cage—each with either natural, nonnatural or no enrichment objects present. Specifically, we wanted to know whether (1) the exhibit's perceived educational message, (2) the animal's perceived “happiness,” and (3) the visitor perceptions of enrichment, the naturalism of animal's behavior, and zoo animal well-being changed as a function of object type. Overall, the type of enrichment object had little impact on visitor perceptions. In the outdoor barren grotto, only visitor perceptions of exhibit naturalism were affected by object type. In the outdoor vegetated grotto, object type influenced visitors perceptions of enrichment and exhibit naturalism. For the indoor immersion exhibit, general perceptions of enrichment and the perceived naturalism of the animal's behavior were affected. Finally, in the outdoor traditional cage, perceived educational message and general perceptions of enrichment changed as a function of object type. Zoo Biol 17:525–534, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc. Peer Reviewed http://deepblue.lib.umich.edu/bitstream/2027.42/38477/1/6_ftp.pdf
Article
The author predicted that Zoo Atlanta visitors who had interactive experience with the zoo's elephant demonstration and bio-fact program would be more likely to actively support elephant conservation than those who simply viewed the animals in their exhibit and read graphics. The survey instruments used in this research consisted of 25 closed-ended questions, petitions, and conservation-action solicitation cards. A random sample of 471 zoo visitors was selected, and 350 individuals completed the survey, signed petitions, and took solicitation cards. The overall return rate of the solicitation cards was 18.3%; the return rate was higher for visitors who had higher levels of interaction with the elephant exhibit. The return rates by experience were highest—29.7%, high—20.3%, undetermined—14.8%, low—14.3%, and lowest—11.6%. For the five categories of experience, the distribution of return rates was not random, χ2(4,N = 64) = 9.88, p < .04.
Article
Zoos serve as centers for both research and education. The challenge is to convey messages about their conservation projects while meeting visitor expectations, which often include recreation and entertainment. One way this can be achieved is through the design of immersive exhibits that draw visitors in and engage them with interactive educational elements. Regenstein African Journey (RAJ) opened at Lincoln Park Zoo in 2003 and was designed to take visitors on a simulated safari through Africa. Because visitor experience was a major design goal, we conducted a timing and tracking study to evaluate use of the building and educational components. For a 9-week period in 2003, we tracked 338 visitors to RAJ and recorded continuous data as they moved through the building. Data were collected on handheld computers that provided precise timing data. The median visit was 11.08 min, 41% of which was spent looking at animals and 9% of which was spent engaged with interpretive elements. We found significant differences in the way visitors used signage: those in groups without children spent more of their visit engaged with signage than those with children and visitors who spent more of their visit interacting socially spent less time engaged with signage. By understanding how visitors use the educational opportunities presented to them, we can better meet their expectations and more effectively achieve the goal of conservation education.
Article
One way in which zoos attempt to fulfill their goal of conservation is by educating visitors about the importance of protecting wildlife. Research has only begun to examine the effectiveness of zoos in place-based learning, and there has been much debate about how such informal learning is defined and measured. Free-choice learning research has demonstrated that educational outcomes are often indirect, constructed by the visitor as much as they are influenced by the zoo's educational staff. This constructivist definition of education includes emotional dimensions and personal meaning-making that occur in the social context of visiting, as well as any structured interpretive material provided on signs and through live presentations. This paper presents an examination of how the zoo is experienced by the visitor, through surveys and through observations of how visitors watch animals and incorporate those viewings into their social experience. Results from surveys of 206 zoo visitors show that support for protecting both individual animals and species is associated with learning, with wanting to know more, and with a feeling of connection to the animal. An analysis of 1,900 overheard visitor conversations suggests that zoo animals are used to facilitate topical interaction among social groups and to explore the connections that people share with nonhuman animals. The authors propose that these perceived positive connections may be related to support for conservation initiatives, and conclude that a visit to the zoo appears to be a positive emotional experience that leaves visitors interested in learning more about animals, irrespective of their reading the exhibit labels.
Article
The Philadelphia Zoo's Measuring Mission project assessed the conservation-related impacts of a visit to the Zoo and documented the results in a way that would provide a set of easily actionable planning strategies. A logic model provided a theoretical framework and guided the development of survey items. Three groups were surveyed using a pre-post retrospective instrument: zoo visitors, members, and volunteers. This report includes findings from the visitor surveys only. Data were analyzed using factor analysis, correlations, and t-tests. Results revealed that the Philadelphia Zoo has been most successful in providing its guests with a satisfying animal viewing experience, facilitated by accessible informative interpretive staff, but that guests do not always take advantage of opportunities to interact with staff. Success in achieving the Zoo's conservation mission was measured by comparing pre and posttest scores on five outcome factors (conservation motivation, conservation knowledge, pro-conservation consumer skills, conservation attitudes/values, readiness to take conservation action). The greatest gains were found in conservation knowledge and conservation motivation. Quality of exhibits and quality of staff stand out as the most important factors in influencing conservation outcomes. To ensure that results would be accessible to a wide variety of Zoo employees for planning, program and exhibit development, and staff training, nine strategies were identified as key to achieving success in the Zoo's mission. Measuring Mission has created a process for assessing the Zoo's mission impact, and has confirmed that high-quality exhibits interpreted by expert, readily available staff can influence conservation knowledge and motivation in particular.
Article
A debate exists among modern zoo staff as to whether or not the addition of un-naturalistic enrichment takes away from, or even defeats, the educational messages designers are trying to incorporate in naturalistic exhibits. A visitor study was conducted at the Central Park Zoo's polar bear exhibit in order to determine whether or not the type of enrichment in an enclosure actually alters guest perceptions. Visitors were exposed to one of two enrichment treatments in the bear enclosure: Naturalistic or Un-naturalistic. The results of this study suggest that enrichment type did not alter the perceptions of visitors. However, it did identify some of the different ways adults and youths perceive animals and zoos. Additionally, the study highlighted the varying perceptions individuals have of the concept of polar bears vs. their perceptions of the captive individuals at the Central Park Zoo. Implications for enrichment usage and exhibit design are discussed.