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Do zoo visitors come to learn? An internationally comparative, mixed-methods study

Roe, K. and McConney, A. (2015) Do zoo visitors come to learn? An internationally comparative, mixed-methods study. Environmental Education Research, 21 (6). pp. 865-884.

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Zoo visitors go to see animals, but are they there to learn? This mixed-methods study examines visitor learning from both zoos’ and visitors’ perspectives using qualitative and quantitative data. Five hundred and forty zoo visitor interviews from nine case studies provide insight into visitor intentions, which indicate that the majority of visitors (72%) arrive at zoos with a learning agenda. Over 170 zoos across 48 countries also report, via an online questionnaire, that the majority of their visitors come to learn. In contrast, however, 28 face-to-face zoo education staff interviewed at the nine case study sites suggests a different conclusion. The study also indicates that zoos appear to determine visitors’ intentions through a number of methods, but are most heavily reliant on informal measures with only 15% of zoos using both formal and informal processes. Juxtaposing these findings suggests that zoos’ reliance on informal measures of visitor intentions appears to provide them with a less than accurate picture of their visitors’ learning agendas.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Education
Publisher: Routledge as part of the Taylor and Francis Group
Copyright: 2014 Taylor & Francis
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