Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: The educational value of zoos and aquariums
Author: Moss, Andrew
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2017
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Full text unavailable from EThOS. Restricted access.
Access from Institution:
Zoos and aquariums are some of the most-visited institutions, with around 700 million visits made to them globally each year. They are, in a basic sense, simply repositories of living biodiversity. However, the justifications for the continued existence of zoos have evolved since their inception in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and nearly all now position themselves as organisations focussed on the conservation of the world's remaining biodiversity. Public education of visitors is seen as, and is claimed to be, a central role in achieving this mission. Until relatively recently, very little was known about the impacts of zoo-based education. In this thesis, I will argue that good, progressive zoos and aquariums can and do achieve positive educational impacts on the people that visit them. Using a combination of structured observational methods and traditional social survey designs, I have explored the relative popularity of zoo animals, assessed the tolerance of zoo visitors to different environmental education themes, and have conducted the first fully global evaluation of zoo education impacts. In brief, I found that taxonomic group (mammals), increasing body size and activity levels were significant predictors of visitor interest in zoo animals, giving zoo professionals an evidence base to make decisions regarding education programming and exhibit design. Zoo visitors were also found to be, in the main, accepting to education content that reached beyond animal-based themes. This gives zoo educators the evidence to support their efforts to design and deliver more diverse programmes that cover wider environmental education themes. Finally, from a global survey of more than 5,000 visitors to 26 zoos and aquariums, I concluded that people tend to end their visit with a significantly greater understanding of what biodiversity is, as well as the ways that they personally can help protect it. The links between these two knowledge strands were, however, found to be less strong than predicted, leading to a discussion around the significance of the role of knowledge in catalysing human behaviour change. Aside from demonstrating their own positive educational impact, the wider implication of this research is that zoos and aquariums can also show that they are helping to achieve global biodiversity targets; namely, UN Aichi Biodiversity Target 1. From this, I will argue that the educational role of zoos should be considered as a more influential contributor to biodiversity conservation, and society more generally, than has previously been accepted.
Supervisor: Griffiths, Richard ; Humle, Tatyana ; Bride, Ian Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral