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The increased mental stress of daily life and aging of the population are serious matters in Japan. There are many studies regarding the effects of human-animal interactions on mental and physical human health, whereas there are few studies examining the effects of visiting zoos. To determine the effect of visiting zoos on human health and quality of life, two different zoos were visited by 70 participants in Experiment 1 and 163 participants in Experiment 2. In this study we administered the WHO QOL-26 questionnaire in Japanese to assess the psychological scales of participants, and blood pressures and pulse rates were measured to assess their physical scales. We also used pedometers to count the number of steps taken during zoo visits. Both zoo visits decreased blood pressure and participants demonstrated more than 6000 steps during each visit. The quality of life sub-scale scores were improved after zoo visits.
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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
The effect of visiting zoos on human health and quality
of lifeasj_714 129..134
Taketo SAKAGAMI and Mitsuaki OHTA
Graduate School of Veterinary Science, Azabu University, Sagamihara, Kanagawa, Japan
ABSTRACT
The increased mental stress of daily life and aging of the population are serious matters in Japan. There are many studies
regarding the effects of human-animal interactions on mental and physical human health, whereas there are few studies
examining the effects of visiting zoos. To determine the effect of visiting zoos on human health and quality of life, two
different zoos were visited by 70 participants in Experiment 1 and 163 participants in Experiment 2. In this study we
administered the WHO QOL-26 questionnaire in Japanese to assess the psychological scales of participants, and blood
pressures and pulse rates were measured to assess their physical scales. We also used pedometers to count the number
of steps taken during zoo visits. Both zoo visits decreased blood pressure and participants demonstrated more than 6000
steps during each visit. The quality of life sub-scale scores were improved after zoo visits.
Key words: human health,quality of life,stress,zoo.
INTRODUCTION
Social isolation, family breakdown, social and geo-
graphic mobility, and deterioration of neighborhood
environments, events that are common during the
lives of many people, may adversely affect physical
and emotional health. In 2007, the Japanese govern-
ment reported that the number of people who were
suffering from daily stresses in their lives was sharply
increasing, and that some of these individuals were
developing mental disorders. Additionally, the popu-
lation of the elderly people in Japan is increasing to 25
million, which represents about 20% of the entire
population (Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare in
Japan 2007). These issues represent serious problems
that need to be resolved in order to maintain a healthy
society.
There are many reports demonstrating the effects of
human-animal interactions on human health and
quality of life (QOL) (Friedmann et al. 1980, 1983;
Katcher et al. 1983, 1984; Siegel 1990, 1993; Serpell
1991; Anderson et al. 1992). Siegel (1990) showed that
the elderly who owned pets visited hospitals less fre-
quently in a year than those who did not own pets.
Another important study performed by Anderson et al.
(1992) examined the relationship between pet own-
ership and the major risk factors for cardiovascular
disease. The results showed that pet owners had sig-
nificantly low systolic blood pressure and plasma trig-
lycerides than non-owners. However, there are many
people who may be not able to have their own pets at
their place of residence, especially in cities.
Zoos might be advantageous to people who live in
stressful cities, and zoos could help those people to
maintain physical and psychological well-beings for
health. The historical changes in zoos arising from
cultural influences and scientific developments have
been well documented (Koebner 1994; Hoage & Deiss
1996). At present, zoos take care of animals in their
natural environments for the benefit of both the
animals and the visitors (Benbow 2000), providing a
context for biophilia.
More people go to zoos than to professional sporting
events each year (Wilson 2002). Visiting zoos, people
enjoy the distinctive quality of combining many kinds
of animals along with a natural environment. Why
people keep companion animals, plants, and/or
flowers and why many people visit zoos and/or go to
the park may be explained by the ideas of Wilson
(1984) and Frumkin (2001), who suggested the exist-
ence of biophilia.
In this study, we investigated the effects of zoo visits
on human health and quality of life, focusing on
changes in blood pressure, quantity of exercise, and
psychological parameters.
Correspondence: Taketo Sakagami, Graduate School of Vet-
erinary Science, Azabu University, Sagamihara, Kanagawa
229-8501, Japan. (Email: taketosakagami@hotmail.com)
Received 2 June 2008; accepted for publication 26 May 2009.
Animal Science Journal (2010) 81, 129–134 doi: 10.1111/j.1740-0929.2009.00714.x
© 2009 The Authors
Journal compilation © 2009 Japanese Society of Animal Science
MATERIALS AND METHODS
We selected two different kinds of zoos, i.e. Tama Zoological
Park Zoo, Tokyo and Yokohama Zoo ‘Zoorasia’, Kanagawa.
The former is one of the ordinary zoos where 596 animals
representing 97 species are displayed in naturalistic and spec-
tacular habitats set up on 52.3 ha of land. Its feature may be
the behavioral enrichment that, for instance, orangutans
enjoy the skywalk and chimpanzees operate a vending
machine to get a drink. On the other hand, the latter has
been established with a new concept of the landscape immer-
sion, in which 584 animals representing 84 species are dis-
played in an area of about 38.8 ha as parts of artificial nature.
In Experiment 1, participants (n=70, mean age SD:
20.4 1.6 y), were recruited from the student body of
Azabu University, Kanagawa. A group (n=35, mean
age SD: 20.5 2.0 y) visited Tama Zoological Park.
Another group (n=35, mean age SD: 20.3 1.1 y) visited
the zoo in the same way as a group, but without watching
animals (Control).
In Experiment 2, participants (n=163, mean age SD:
31.2 13.7 y) comprised general visitors who were asked to
cooperate with our study at the Yokohama Zoo.
All tests and questionnaires were administered at the same
time, and the participants were asked to complete their ques-
tionnaires immediately before and after the zoo visits. The
protocol of this study is shown in Figure 1.
The questionnaire ascertained whether participants had
pets or not, and also gathered sociodemographic data (e.g.
age, gender). For the psychological scale, we administered
the WHO QOL-26 questionnaire (the World Health Organi-
zation, WHO) in Japanese. The WHO QOL, a generic health-
related QOL evaluation, concerns over-all QOL (two
questions) and four separate domains of health (24 ques-
tions) including physical well-being, psychological well-
being, social relationships, and environments. The scores for
each category and the total score are shown as average scores
ranging from 1 to 5 (1 =not at all and 5 =extremely). The
higher the score was, the more visitors felt satisfactory and
the better they got a QOL.
For the physical scale, systolic and diastolic blood pressures
were measured one time before and after the zoo visits using
a sphygmomanometer (HEM-634, HEM-650; OMRON,
Kyoto, Japan). Participants rested for 5–10 min before mea-
suring their blood pressure. They were asked to seat in a
comfortable position, with legs and ankles uncrossed and
back supported. We also used pedometers (SD-100; SATO,
Tokyo, Japan) to count the number of steps taken during the
zoo visits.
Statistical analysis
The changes in systolic and diastolic blood pressures before
and after zoo visits were analyzed using the Wilcoxon signed-
ranks test and paired t-test. Significant levels of the WHO
QOL were analyzed by the Wilcoxon signed-ranks test.
RESULTS
The systolic and diastolic blood pressures of partici-
pants were significantly low after visiting two different
zoos, although there were no significant changes in
their pulses. The average individual numbers of steps
during the ordinary visits in Experiments 1 and 2 were
10 308.9 1618.3 and 6551.1 1732.0, respectively
(Tables 1 & 2).
Comparing the systolic blood pressures of the
control group with matched steps to the experimental
group of ordinary zoo visit in Experiment 1, the
average values before zoo visit and after zoo visit were
112.3 10.1 and 109.4 8.4, respectively (Table 1).
Figure 1 The graph shows the time schedule of the experiment 1. After arriving the zoo, participants were asked to rest for
5–10 min to measure their blood pressure. After the measurement, they entered the zoo with pedometers to count their
steps. They also rested 5–10 min to measure the blood pressure after visiting the zoo.
Table 1 Effects of the ordinary zoo visit or the zoo visit without watching animals (control) on blood pressure, pulse rates,
and number of steps (Experiment 1)
Blood pressure (mmHg) Pulse rate
(counts/min)
Number of
steps (counts)
Systolic Diastolic
Zoo visit without Before zoo visit 112.3 10.1 77.4 10.7 77.3 7.2 10 513.3 280.0
Watching animals After zoo visit 109.4 8.5* 75.6 8.5 77.9 9.3
Ordinary zoo visit Before zoo visit 120.7 15.1 79.4 11.5 83.0 10.8 10 308.9 1618.3
After zoo visit 113.7 9.6** 72.7 8.4** 80.3 11.3
**Significant difference between before and after the zoo visit (P<0.01). *Significant difference between before and after the zoo visit
(P<0.05). Mean levels of blood pressure, pulse rate, and number of steps (n=35). Results are expressed as means SD.
130 T. SAKAGAMI and M. OHTA
© 2009 The Authors
Journal compilation © 2009 Japanese Society of Animal Science
Animal Science Journal (2010) 81, 129–134
Although there were no significant changes in their
diastolic blood pressures and pulses.
In comparing ages in Experiment 2, systolic blood
pressures were significantly low in persons of 20s
(n=39, P<0.01) and 40s (n=26, P<0.01) after vis-
iting the zoo (Fig. 2). For those in 30s (n=54,
P<0.05) and 60s (n=13, P<0.05), diastolic pressures
were significantly low after zoo visits. There were no
statistical differences for those in teens (n=17) and
50s (n=14), while these participants demonstrated a
tendency toward decreased in the systolic and diastolic
blood pressure (Fig. 2). For all ages, there were no
significant differences in pulses or numbers of steps
taken during the visit in zoo (data not shown). There
were no statistical differences in blood pressures and
WHO QOL scores of 20s in both Experiments 1
and 2.
In Experiment 2, the average systolic blood pres-
sures of men before the zoo visit and after the zoo
visit were 139 22.5 and 131.9 23.1, respectively
(P<0.01). The average values of the diastolic blood
pressures of men before zoo visit were 91.9 17.3 and
those after zoo visit were 85.4 17.5 (P<0.01). The
systolic blood pressures of women were 125.6 15.5
before the zoo visit and 119.3 14.7, after the visit
(P<0.01), and the diastolic blood pressures of women
before zoo visit were 81.1 13.7 and those after zoo
visit were 77.6 10.8 (P<0.05).
The sub-scale scores for the ‘social relationships
domain’ and ‘overall domain’ were significantly
improved after the ordinary visit in Experiment 1, but
not in other sub-scales (Fig. 3). In the control group
(who did not see any animals on Experiment 1) the
sub-scale scores for the ‘physical well-being domain’
and mean QOL were significantly decreased after vis-
iting the zoo (Fig. 4).
Figure 5 shows the WHO QOL scores for Experi-
ment 2. The sub-scale scores for the ‘physical well-
being domain’, ‘overall domain’, and mean QOL were
improved after visiting the zoo. For comparison of
gender, the mean QOL was significantly improved in
women (P<0.01), but not in men. In comparison,
there were no significant differences between the
scores obtained for pet owners (n=47) and non-
owners (n=116).
We also examined the changes (after zoo visit values
– before zoo visit values) in WHO QOL scores and
blood pressure levels to see the effect of visiting zoos.
The mean changes before and after zoo visit were
0.03 0.03 in WHO QOL scores and -7.0 2.0 in
blood pressure levels in Experiment 1. Three of the 35
(8.6%) participants demonstrated a decrease in the
scores of the WHO QOL and increase in blood pressure
(Fig. 6). In Experiment 2, the mean changes in WHO
QOL scores and the blood pressure levels were
0.1 0.03 and -6.9 1.6, respectively. Fifteen of 163
Table 2 Effects of the zoo visit on blood pressure, pulse rates, and number of steps (Experiment 2)
Blood pressure (mmHg) Pulse rate (counts/min) Number of steps (counts)
Systolic Diastolic
All ages Before zoo visit 131.5 20.7 85.7 15.4 76.6 9.5 6551.1 1732.0
After zoo visit 124.6 21.0** 80.9 13.1** 76.8 10.4
20’s Before zoo visit 125.8 12.6 81.9 10.4 75.7 9.7 6561.7 1929.8
After zoo visit 116.8 15.3* 76.9 11.7 75.7 10.0
**Significant difference between before and after the zoo visit (P<0.01). *Significant difference between before and after the zoo visit
(P<0.05). Mean levels of blood pressure, pulse rate, and number of steps (All ages n=163, 20s n=39). Results are expressed as
means SD.
Figure 2 Comparison of different ages with regard to
blood pressure and zoo visit (Experiment 2, n=163).
**There was a significant difference between before and
after zoo visits (P<0.01). *There was a significant
difference between before and after zoo visits (P<0.05).
The top and the bottom bars show the systolic and the
diastolic, respectively, blood pressure. Results are expressed
as means SE.
THE EFFECT OF VISITING ZOOS ON HUMAN HEALTH 131
© 2009 The Authors
Journal compilation © 2009 Japanese Society of Animal Science
Animal Science Journal (2010) 81, 129–134
(9.2%) participants demonstrated decreases in both
the physical and mental scales.
DISCUSSION
There have been several studies explaining the great
benefit of having a home aquarium as part of the
visual environment or of owning pets for reducing
blood pressure (Katcher 1982; Katcher et al. 1983;
Vormbrock & Grossberg 1988; Siegel, 1990). Owning
or looking at animals, especially dogs, causes their
owners to be more active, increasing overall physical
health and aiding the ability to cope with stressful life
events (Katcher et al. 1983). Similarly, we observed
significant decreases in blood pressure for participants
who visited zoos. The autonomic nervous system con-
trols all the body’s involuntary processes: respiratory
rate, heart rate, blood pressure, gastric juice secretion,
peristalsis, body temperature, and so on. When we feel
stressed, our brain activates the sympathetic nervous
system, which has come to be known as the fight-or-
flight response. This causes the adrenal medulla to
secrete adrenaline (also called epinephrine), a
hormone that circulates through the bloodstream,
affecting almost every organ. When we are relaxed,
our body’s parasympathetic nervous system counter-
Figure 3 Difference between before and after the ordinary
zoo visit on five sub-scale domains (Physical, Psychological,
Social Relationships, Environment and over-all QOL) scores
and mean QOL score on Experiment 1 (n=35). The line in
the boxes, upper and lower bars show the medium values,
maximum and minimum values, respectively. *Significant
difference between before and after zoo visit (Wilcoxon
signed-ranks test, P<0.05).
Figure 4 Difference between before and after zoo visit on
five sub-scale domains (Physical, Psychological, Social
Relationships, Environment and over-all QOL) scores and
mean QOL score of the group visited zoo without watching
animals on Experiment 1 (n=35). The line in the boxes,
upper and lower bars show the medium values, maximum
and minimum values, respectively. *Significant difference
between before and after zoo visit (Wilcoxon signed-ranks
test, P<0.05).
Figure 5 Difference between before and after zoo visit on
five sub-scale domains (Physical, Psychological, Social
Relationships, Environment and over-all QOL) scores and
mean QOL score on Experiment 2 (n=163). The line in the
boxes, upper and lower bars show the medium values,
maximum and minimum values, respectively. *Significant
difference between before and after zoo visit (Wilcoxon
signed-ranks test, P<0.05). **Significant difference
between before and after zoo visit (Wilcoxon signed-ranks
test, P<0.01).
132 T. SAKAGAMI and M. OHTA
© 2009 The Authors
Journal compilation © 2009 Japanese Society of Animal Science
Animal Science Journal (2010) 81, 129–134
acts the harmful effects of stress with lowering blood
pressure, decreasing heart rate and breathing rate.
In both experiments, participants had a tendency to
lower blood pressure after the ordinary visits. Given
the previous research showing stress reduction follow-
ing exposures to more animal interacted environment,
the findings here suggest that zoo visit elicited
responses similar to those of animal interactions.
Therefore, visiting a zoo can influence human health
or help us cope with stress in a manner analogous to
pet ownership. Furthermore, the zoo visit lowered
blood pressure in both men and women in Experiment
2. This result suggests that the zoo visit has an effect
regardless of sex. The calming influence of exterior
gazing was demonstrated in the laboratory by Lacey
(1959), who studied the physiological response of sub-
jects to different tasks that could be performed in a
laboratory. They measured heart rate, blood pressure,
and the activity of the sweat glands on the palms and
found that the signs of nervous activation increased
when a subject was required to think, process data, or
perform mental work. However, heart rate and blood
pressure fell and the palms became to be dry when
subjects were asked to focus on the external environ-
ment or listen to music.
In Experiment 1 the control group showed a slight
effect on blood pressure, but was decreased ‘physical
well-being domain’ and mean QOL scores signifi-
cantly. On the other hand, there was a tendency to
decrease in all domains of QOL scores after visiting the
zoo with watching animals, suggesting that the watch-
ing animals in zoo visit is important for human health,
especially a mental aspect.
One of the important beneficial factors related to
visiting zoos may be walking. Walking is the most
natural activity and the only sustained dynamic
aerobic exercise that is common to everyone, exclud-
ing the seriously disabled. The Japanese government
recommends that people walk 10 000 steps/day (Min-
istry of Health, Labour and Welfare in Japan 2007).
Tudor-Locke and Bassett (2004) evaluated popular
recommendations for steps/day and proposed indices
for use in classifying pedometer-determined physical
activity in healthy adults. However, the goal of 10 000
steps/day is not normally achievable through routine
daily activities. For many, there is a daily deficit of
approximately 4000 steps (most from 3000 to 6000
steps), which must be gained from other rigorous
activities (Choi et al. 2007). The results of this study
suggest that visiting zoos can not only make up for this
deficiency, but also provide enjoyment.
There was a difference in the average individual
numbers of steps between the ordinary visit in Experi-
ments 1 and 2. This difference must be caused by the
size and the characteristic of the zoos. In Tama Zoo-
logical Park, there are no decided routes to go around
the zoo. In Yokohama Zoo, however, the route is
decided from the entrance to the exit.
Generally, walking the dog is one popular way to
exercise. Serpell (1991) estimated that pet (dog)
owners sustained an increase in physical exercise as a
result of walking with their dogs. Although no discern-
ible statistical association was found between the
number of minor health problems reported and the
number/duration of walks taken at either the begin-
ning or end of the study, such a substantial increase in
daily physical exercise is likely to have a beneficial
impact on health (Serpell, 1991). However, it is not
easy to have a pet or take a walk for those living in
cities. Furthermore, we cannot ignore the negative
psychological impact of pet loss when assessing pet
ownership. In contrast, zoo animals are cared for by
professional keepers, so visitors are not troubled with
needless apprehensions.
In both experiments, participants, regardless of pet
ownership status, demonstrated an improvement in
psychological well-being after the ordinary zoo visits.
Figure 6 Changes in WHO QOL scores and blood pressure
(A =Experiment 1, B =Experiment 2). The graph shows
participants’ data with WHO QOL scores on the vertical axis
and blood pressure on the horizontal axis. The dots
represent each participant with the changes in WHO QOL
scores and blood pressure, subtracting a value before zoo
visit from that after zoo visit.
THE EFFECT OF VISITING ZOOS ON HUMAN HEALTH 133
© 2009 The Authors
Journal compilation © 2009 Japanese Society of Animal Science
Animal Science Journal (2010) 81, 129–134
Most of the participants demonstrated a tendency
toward amelioration of their physical and mental
indices.
From the result of this study, there were no statisti-
cal differences in the blood pressures and the WHO
QOL scores in both experiments of 20s. This result
suggests that the difference of the concepts and/or the
size of the zoos have no relationship with the effect of
the physiological and psychological health. Further-
more, Figure 6 shows that the effect (blood pressure
and WHO QOL) of two different zoos has a similarity
in the shapes of the graphs. The participants in this
study demonstrated a tendency to increase WHO QOL
scores and decrease blood pressure by ordinary visit in
Experiments 1 and 2. These suggest that a zoo has a
good effect on human physical and mental health
whether one zoo is different from the other or not.
For comparison of gender in Experiment 2, the blood
pressure decreased after visiting zoo regardless of sex.
However, the mean QOL was significantly improved in
women, but not in men, while there was a tendency to
increase in all domains of QOL scores after visiting zoos
in both men and women. Taken together, a difference
in gender on visiting zoos might be found the mental
aspect of health, but not the physical.
The results of this pilot study provide some tentative
explanations for the possibility of zoos’ usefulness in
human health, and may provide a valuable suggestion
for governments, as visiting zoos could potentially
reduce medical expenses in aging societies. Scientifi-
cally, it would be valuable to extend the research to
include much larger samples of zoo visitors to identify
the main factors of the effects and, in particular, to
examine the effects on aged people so as to further
elucidate the possible effects of age, sex, and other
factors.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Tama
Zoological Park and Yokohama Zoo ‘Zoorasia’. We are
also grateful for the cooperation of the participants in
this study.
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Zoological institutions often use immersive, naturalistic exhibits to create an inclusive atmosphere that is inviting for visitors while providing for the welfare of animals in their collections. In this study, we investigated physiological changes in salivary cortisol and blood pressure, as well as psychological changes among visitors before and after a walk through the River’s Edge, an immersive, naturalistic exhibit at the Saint Louis Zoo. Study participants had a significant reduction in salivary cortisol and blood pressure after walking through the exhibit. Psychological assessments of mood found that most visitors felt happier, more energized, and less tense after the visit. Additionally, participants who spent more time in River’s Edge, had visited River’s Edge prior to the study, and had seen more exhibits at the Zoo prior to entering River’s Edge experienced greater psychological and/or physiological benefits. We conclude that immersive, naturalistic exhibits in zoos can elicit positive changes in physiological and psychological measures of health and well-being and argue for a greater scientific focus on the role of zoos and other green spaces in human health.
... Significant reductions in blood pressure (both systolic and diastolic) were reported among zoo visitors (Sakagami & Ohta, 2010); however, as the content of the zoo experience was not studied, the drivers of this decrease could not be ascertained. More specifically, Sahrmann, Niedbalski, Bradshaw, Johnson, and Deem (2016) found that heart rate dropped significantly and mood improved, which both suggest a decrease in stress, after touch tank experiences. ...
... Such encounters provide both excitement (at the opportunity to glimpse or have a close encounter with an animal) and an element of peaceful relaxation (through being immersed in a naturalistic environment)-and may often be some of the only experiences some people have of engaging with wildlife (Cox et al., 2017;Sakagami & Ohta, 2010). From a zoological perspective, this study also shows that walk-through enclosures (already noted as being popular with visitors, and reducing conflicts between public requirements and maintaining good welfare: Moss, Francis, & Esson, 2008;Sickler & Fraser, 2009;Woolway & Goodenough, 2017) can also facilitate improvement in health and well-being of visitors. ...
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1. The literature addressing the potential for nature and natural environments to reduce stress and improve health outcomes has a relative paucity of work regarding interactions with animals, particularly those that are not domestic pets. 2. The present observational study sought to understand whether a brief encounter with non-domestic animals might reduce stress and improve well-being of participants , and whether participants' nature relatedness, and their appraisals of the interaction might influence these changes. 3. Participants (N = 86, mean age = 20.8 years, 81.8% women) took part in a brief wildlife encounter at a UK safari park, walking for approximately 11 min around an enclosure with free-roaming lemurs. Heart rate, cortisol and measures of mood were taken before and after the encounter to understand whether this activity could reduce biological levels of stress and improve psychological well-being. 4. There was no decrease in participants' heart rate after their encounter but there was a statistically significant decrease in salivary cortisol. Measures of mood significantly improved immediately after the encounter. Reductions in cortisol were associated with dimensions of an individual's nature relatedness, as well as aspects of the animal encounter (number of lemurs and lemur proximity). 5. The findings contribute to parallel literature on nature-health relationships, with the addition of factors seemingly driving the interaction (individuals' nature re-latedness, and the number and proximity of the animals) providing important contributory information. The present study provides new information on how encounters with nature, particularly those involving animals, may be beneficial for health and well-being. Critically, this study was carried out in a setting where potential impact of visitors on animals is negligible, thereby demonstrating the potential for creating environments where both human and animal well-being are maximised. K E Y W O R D S biophilia, cortisol, health, human animal interaction, non-companion animals, well-being
... For example, recent studies explore the direct benefits zoos offer for human health. In one study, a single zoo visit was shown to decrease blood pressure and result in approximately 6,000 steps walked per visit [20]. In another study, visitors interacting with stingrays in a touch tank at a zoo felt happier, more energized, and less tense after their visit [21]. ...
... The impact that zoo visits have on human health and well-being are still poorly understood, but warrant further study. Engagement with the outdoors provides humans with psychological, emotional, spiritual and even physical benefits and it is thus imperative that we also understand how zoos impact human health [20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27]. ...
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Today, accredited zoos are not just places for entertainment, they are actively involved in research for conservation and health. During recent decades in which the challenges for biodiversity conservation and public health have escalated, zoos have made significant changes to address these difficulties. Zoos increasingly have four key areas of focus: education, recreation, conservation, and research. These key areas are important in addressing an interrelated global conservation (i.e. habitat and wildlife loss) and public health crisis. Zoo and public health professionals working together within a One Health framework represent a powerful alliance to address current and future conservation and public health problems around the world. For researchers, practitioners, and students, the collaboration between zoos and public health institutions offers the opportunity to both teach and operationalize this transdisciplinary approach. Using examples from our programs, we give a template for moving forward with collaborative initiatives and sustainable solutions involving partners in both zoos and public health institutions. We provide examples of cooperative programs and suggest a model for consideration in the development of further activities in this area.
... Many people visit zoos to share experiences with their children, strengthen social ties with family and friends, and even find psychological comfort by enjoying the nature and interacting with animals [11,34]. Others point out recreation and enjoyment as high motivators for their visit [35]. ...
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Zoos and wildlife tourism activities attract visitors with the expectation that visitors will see animals. Though, zoos typically cite animal conservation and education as their main goals, visitors typically cite entertainment reasons for visiting zoos. Hence, the main objective of this study was to determine the management of Mvog-Betsi Zoo through tourists' satisfaction. The method used for data collection was the administration of questionnaire to tourist and also the workers of the zoo. However, the study revealed a significance between educational level of tourists and hygiene rating of the zoo-animal enclosures, X 2 = 4.667 df=6, P<0.05. Results recorded on hygiene rating of the zoo were 50%, 40%, and 10% on 'poor', 'fair', and 'good' respectively. Additionally, 70% and 30% rating was recorded on 'no' and 'yes' respectively on tourists satisfaction. Though the study recorded 70% and 30% rating on 'fair' and 'poor' management of the zoo respectively, there was lack of satisfaction on its services as acknowledged by the tourists. Professionally, 62% of the zoo workers have had educational training in the management of forest and wildlife resources as the study has shown but not on zoo-tourism management. A 63% respondent revealed the problem of zoo logistics as the key challenge faced by the management. Furthermore, a respondent revelation of 37% from the zoo-workers on the need of more wildlife is an additional confirmation of poor zoo management knowledge. Rather, a zoo that is legitimately facing logistical challenges would reject the idea of more wildlife intake into its management. Mvog-Betsi Zoo is a transit point for wildlife seized from hunters around the country, though wildlife tourism component is added to its management objectives in order to raise income that could help in managing the center sustainably, the inclusion of trained tourism scientists would facelift and guarantee positive achievement.
... The modern-day zoo is an especially important social and cultural institution (Davey, 2005;Falk et al., 2007). In our previous study on the effect of visiting zoos on human health and QOL, we found that zoo visits decreased blood pressure and improved some subscale scores on the World Health Organization QOL-26 questionnaire (Sakagami & Ohta, 2010). Unfortunately, in Japan, zoos and aquariums are not very popular with older people. ...
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In Japan, older people are expected to comprise 30% of the population as early as 2025. We hypothesized that visiting a zoo or aquarium might be good for their health, compared with visiting a nearby park. We conducted two studies with older Japanese participants to compare the psychological and physical effects of visiting a zoo or aquarium with those of visiting a park. In these studies, we administered the Profile of Mood States-Brief questionnaire and measured blood pressure, pulse, and salivary hormones before and after visits. In the first study, 30 participants visited a zoo, a park, and an aquarium on separate days. They also participated in a video-watching experiment as a control. The visitors’ cortisol and/or blood pressure fell significantly (p < 0.05) after visiting the zoo and park. Also, mood improved on a few scales during the zoo visit. Visiting the park had almost the same health benefits as visiting the zoo. To clarify the difference between the two, in the second study, we recruited new older volunteers and assessed changes in salivary oxytocin and cortisol during zoo and park visits. Oxytocin increased significantly (p < 0.05) and cortisol decreased during visits to the zoo, and post-visit oxytocin levels were lower for park visits than zoo visits.
... They find psychological comfort and improve their mental and physical health by enjoying the natural world and interacting with animals (Mitchell and Popham, 2008). The reasons behind people's desire to visit zoos may also be explained by the biophilia hypothesis, which focuses on humans' innate tendency to seek connections with nature and other living organisms (Sakagami and Ohta, 2010;Bruni et al., 2008). ...
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In an increasingly competitive tourism market, it is essential to assess visitors' demands and levels of satisfaction. Currently, in Greece, there are two public and one private zoo. The Attica zoological park located in Athens has the most extensive collection of animals from all over the world. At the same time, the two public zoos serve a double purpose as zoos and peri-urban parks. A self-administered questionnaire was designed to determine the views and attitudes of the visitors in both public and private zoos of Greece. A total of 707 questionnaires were collected in Attika Park during the weekends of 2017. According to the results, the visitors were mainly middle-aged and highly educated with their motivation for their visits focused on entertainment. They visit the Park mostly in springtime, traveling mainly by car and covering distances of 5-50 km. As regards the quality of infrastructure, facilities, and services available at the zoo, the visitors of Attica Park found access to the area and security provided at the site as very satisfactory. At the same time, they consider that the animal's living conditions, their hygiene, and the existence of shelters for injured animals to be inadequate. The overall satisfaction with the outdoor recreation experience and satisfaction with the existing park facilities and services was higher at the Attica Zoological Park (91.1%) than in the two public zoos of Greece. The results of this work provide lessons that will improve zoo management, animal welfare, and sustain the flow of visitors.
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Nature-based interventions have been proposed to promote physical and mental health and give stress reduction. Little attention has been given to the potential of zoos for human health and wellbeing. A disadvantaged group in Sweden regarding access to nature are individuals with disabilities who consequently do not have the same access to these health benefits as other groups. To increase awareness and knowledge regarding spending time in nature and with animals, courses directed at caretakers for persons with disabilities and their users were held at Nordens Ark, a zoo in Sweden. To explore if the courses had led to increased nature activities, and if participating in the courses had affected caretakers’ and their users’ health and wellbeing, questionnaires and interviews for evaluating the courses were used. The results showed improved quality in nature visits because of course participation as well as positive effects for the wellbeing, sustainability for the caregivers and users in their working lives, and relationships were positively affected. The conclusion from this study is that nature and animal-based education should be more frequent to provide opportunities for a disadvantaged group to have the positive effects of nature of which most other groups have obvious access to.
Chapter
The foundation of One Health is the interconnection between humans, domestic animals, wildlife, and the environment. Nowhere is this interaction more apparent than at zoological parks and aquariums. Through zoos and aquariums, the intersection between humans, animals and the environment occurs in two distinct settings: 1) field-based conservation projects, in which zoo personnel conduct wildlife health and population management projects with threatened or endangered species in their natural habitats and 2) within zoological parks and aquariums, where the health and well-being of animals in their collections must be managed while also seeking to prevent the transmission of zoonotic disease to staff and visitors. The zoological industry has a 2-pronged mission: to enhance biodiversity by conserving wildlife species and to entertain and educate the general public about nature and wildlife conservation. In local communities, zoos are often underutilized sources of valuable public health data. Additionally, long-term daily monitoring of the health of collection animals, and banking of tissue, blood samples, and diagnostic tests performed on free-living local wildlife found on zoo grounds, offer valuable data that can be used for human and animal disease surveillance. In the case of zoonotic diseases, animals in zoo collections may serve as sentinels for emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases of public health significance. This chapter provides an overview of some of the One Health opportunities and challenges that zoos and aquariums face, with real world examples of zoos responding to recent public health threats.
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A 10-month prospective study was carried out which examined changes in behaviour and health status in 71 adult subjects following the acquisition of a new pet (either dogs or cats). A group of 26 subjects without pets served as a comparison over the same period. Both pet-owning groups reported a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in dog owners through to 10 months. The pet-acquiring groups also showed improvements in their scores on the 30-item General Health Questionnaire over the first 6 months and, in dog owners, this improvement was maintained until 10 months. In addition, dog owners took considerably more physical exercise while walking their dogs than the other two groups, and this effect continued throughout the period of study. The group without pets exhibited no statistically significant changes in health or behaviour, apart from a small increase in recreational walking. The results provide evidence that pet acquisition may have positive effects on human health and behaviour, and that in some cases these effects are relatively long term.
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A 10-month prospective study was carried out which examined changes in behaviour and health status in 71 adult subjects following the acquisition of a new pet (either dogs or cats). A group of 26 subjects without pets served as a comparison over the same period. Both pet-owning groups reported a highly significant reduction in minor health problems during the first month following pet acquisition, and this effect was sustained in dog owners through to 10 months. The pet-acquiring groups also showed improvements in their scores on the 30-item General Health Questionnaire over the first 6 months and, in dog owners, this improvement was maintained until 10 months. In addition, dog owners took considerably more physical exercise while walking their dogs than the other two groups, and this effect continued throughout the period of study. The group without pets exhibited no statistically significant changes in health or behaviour, apart from a small increase in recreational walking. The results provide evidence that pet acquisition may have positive effects on human health and behaviour, and that in some cases these effects are relatively long term.
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The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.
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Pedometers are simple and inexpensive body-worn motion sensors that are readily being used by researchers and practitioners to assess and motivate physical activity behaviours. Pedometer-determined physical activity indices are needed to guide their efforts. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to review the rationale and evidence for general pedometer-based indices for research and practice purposes. Specifically, we evaluate popular recommendations for steps/day and attempt to translate existing physical activity guidelines into steps/day equivalents. Also, we appraise the fragmented evidence currently available from associations derived from cross-sectional studies and a limited number of interventions that have documented improvements (primarily in body composition and/or blood pressure) with increased steps/day. A value of 10 000 steps/day is gaining popularity with the media and in practice and can be traced to Japanese walking clubs and a business slogan 30+ years ago. 10 000 steps/day appears to be a reasonable estimate of daily activity for apparently healthy adults and studies are emerging documenting the health benefits of attaining similar levels. Preliminary evidence suggests that a goal of 10 000 steps/day may not be sustainable for some groups, including older adults and those living with chronic diseases. Another concern about using 10 000 steps/day as a universal step goal is that it is probably too low for children, an important target population in the war against obesity. Other approaches to pedometer-determined physical activity recommendations that are showing promise of health benefit and individual sustainability have been based on incremental improvements relative to baseline values. Based on currently available evidence, we propose the following preliminary indices be used to classify pedometer-determined physical activity in healthy adults: (i) 12 500 steps/day are likely to be classified as ‘highly active’.
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Reviews psychophysiological approaches to the evaluation of psychotherapeutic process and outcome. The author focuses attention on those investigations which use measurements of peripherally accessible functions such as heart rate, skin temperature, muscle potentials and skin resistance in the course of therapeutic or quasi-therapeutic interviews. The author discusses indicant functions of autonomic and skeletal-motor changes, the "transactional" nature of autonomic response, and problems of psychophysiology. Some applications to the study of psychotherapy seem obvious, especially if psychotherapy is viewed as a learning process, and as one characterized by social interactions, some of which can be arranged on a continuum from "environmental intake" to "environmental rejection with accompanying internal elaboration." autonomic measures is low. However, as far as present evidence goes, individual indicant concordance is so low that single autonomic measures cannot be used to unequivocally rank-order the "arousal-value" of different stimuli for a given individual, or the "arousability" of different individuals. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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The effect of the presence of a friendly animal on children's blood pressures and heart rates while resting and their cardiovascular responses to verbalization were examined. The presence of the dog resulted in lower blood pressures both while the children (N = 38) were resting and while they were reading. The effect of the presence of the dog was greater when the dog was present initially than when it was introduced in the second half of the experiment. We speculate that the animal causes the children to modify their perceptions of the experimental situation and the experimenter by making both less threatening and more friendly. This study provides insight into the use of pets as adjuncts in psychotherapy. (C) Williams & Wilkins 1983. All Rights Reserved.
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The literature on animals as human companions is divided into studies of naturally occurring pet ownership and studies in which pets have been introduced as some form of intervention. Research on naturally occurring pet ownership has yielded mixed results, although there is a tendency for studies that are stronger methodologically to show some mental or physical health advantage to ownership. The evaluation of interventions has not yet progressed beyond clinical impressions. Thus, the potential of such interventions has not been adequately assessed. I discuss human-animal relations in terms of attachment and stress reduction, using data from my research to illustrate the stress reduction perspective.
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