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Research, sustainability and learning
Bridging the gap between science and the practice of learning for nature, the environment and sustainability
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A Global Evaluation of Biodiversity Literacy in Zoo and Aquarium Visitors

A Global Evaluation of Biodiversity Literacy in Zoo and Aquarium Visitors | Research, sustainability and learning | Scoop.it

The United Nations Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020 is a key initiative within global efforts to halt and eventually reverse the loss of biodiversity. The very first target of this plan states that ‘by 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably’.

 

Zoos and aquariums worldwide, attracting more than 700 million visits every year, could potentially make a positive contribution to this target. However, a global evaluation of the educational impacts of visits to zoos and aquariums is entirely lacking in the existing literature. To address this gap, we conducted a large scale impact evaluation study, using a pre- and post-visit repeated measures survey design, to evaluate biodiversity literacy – biodiversity understanding and knowledge of actions to help protect biodiversity in zoo and aquarium visitors. Our findings are based on the largest and most international study of zoo and aquarium visitors ever conducted worldwide; in total, more than 6,000 visitors to 30 zoos and aquariums around the globe participated in the study.

 

The study’s main finding is that aggregate biodiversity understanding and knowledge of actions to help protect biodiversity both significantly increased over the course of zoo and aquarium visits. There was an increase from pre-visit (69.8%) to post‑visit (75.1%) in respondents demonstrating at least some positive evidence of biodiversity understanding. Similarly, there was an increase from pre‑visit (50.5%) to post‑visit (58.8%) in respondents that could identify a pro-biodiversity action that could be achieved at an individual level.

 

This study provides the most compelling evidence to date that zoo and aquarium visits can contribute to increasing the number of people who understand biodiversity and know actions they can take to help protect biodiversity.

 

Download this report at: http://www.waza.org/files/webcontent/1.public_site/5.conservation/un_decade_biodiversity/WAZA%20Visitor%20Survey%20Report.pdf

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Video: Zoo conservation raise debate CNN

Will Travers OBE appeared live on CNN to argue the case for keeping wildlife in the wild. But what do you think?

Via Wildlife Margrit
Rebekah Tauritz's insight:

What are zoos and aquaria around the world contributing to wildlife conservation, research and conservation advocacy? Two experts briefly share their opinions. Food for thought!

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Connecting to nature at the zoo implications for responding to climate change

Societal response to climate change has been inadequate. A perception that the issue is both physically and temporally remote may reduce concern; concern may also be affected by the political polarization surrounding the issue in the USA. A feeling of connection to nature or to animals may increase personal relevance, and a supportive social context may counteract political tensions. Zoos may provide opportunities for both sense of connection and social support. We surveyed over 7000 zoo and aquarium visitors to examine the ways in which a feeling of personal connection among zoo visitors may encourage concern about climate change. Results show that feeling connected to animals at the zoo is significantly associated with cognitive and emotional responses to climate change, as well as with other social groupings and social responses. Overall, the zoo seems to present a supportive social context for considering the topic.

 

Susan Clayton , Jerry Luebke , Carol Saunders , Jennifer Matiasek & Alejandro Grajal , Environmental Education Research (2013): Connecting to nature at the zoo: implications for responding to climate change, Environmental Education Research, DOI: 10.1080/13504622.2013.816267


To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13504622.2013.816267

 

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The Role of Zoos in Fostering Environmental Identity

The Role of Zoos in Fostering Environmental Identity | Research, sustainability and learning | Scoop.it

Susan Clayton, 1 John Fraser, 2 and Claire Burgess 3

 

1 Department of Psychology, The College of Wooster, Wooster, Ohio.

2 Institute for Learning Innovation, New York, New York.

3 Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California

 

As locations where social interactions center on animals, zoos may enable the development of an environmental identity that encourages concern for animals. Two field studies of zoo visitors assessed the level of concern for animals and predictors of that concern and looked for behaviors that might foster identity and concern.

 

In one study, 1514 adult visitors were surveyed and 265 different visitors were observed. Environmental identity, sense of connection to the animal, and perceived similarity to the animal were all correlated with interest in conservation and general environmental concern. Although there were no significant differences in survey responses before entering an exhibit compared with those obtained as visitors were exiting, responses differed according to exhibit. Exhibits where more comparisons to humans were made tended to evoke higher ratings of support for helping animals.

 

A second study recorded

interactions among 805 visitor groups. The data suggested that viewing the animals was primarily a social activity, which served to promote social interaction and, in some cases, enabled discussion about a shared conception of the human relationship with animals.

 

We conclude that zoos provide an opportunity to create and nurture a social identity that emphasizes connection to animals

 

Download this article: http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/pdf/10.1089/eco.2010.0079

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Learning about animals, science and conservation: Large scale survey - based evaluation of the educational impact of the ZSL London Zoo Formal Learning programme

Learning about animals, science and conservation: Large scale survey - based evaluation of the educational impact of the ZSL London Zoo Formal Learning programme | Research, sustainability and learning | Scoop.it

The study described in this report represents the largest (n = 3018) and most methodologically robust investigation of the educational value of zoos for children and adolescents ever conducted worldwide. This research evaluates (1) the impact of ZSL London Zoo Formal Learning educational presentations and unguided zoo visits, (2) pupils’ development of new knowledge and (3) pupils’ perceptions of zoos, science and wildlife conservation.

 

Using methods developed during a pilot study conducted in spring 2009 with primary school (Wagoner & Jensen 2010) and post-16 pupils (Jensen & Wagoner, under review) attending London Zoo Formal Learning presentations, both the quality and quantity of learning are directly assessed. The present study is aimed at both informing practice at the ZSL London Zoo Discovery & Learning Department and at developing robust evidence of the degree to which zoo-based science and conservation educationcan have a positive impact for children and adolescents.

 

Download the full report:

http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/soc/sociology/rsw/rpa/culture_media/esr/pupil_questionnaire_study_-_full_report_final_handover_version_1nov.10.pdf

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