Evaluating the contribution of world zoos to the United Nations Decade on biodiversity

As part of the United Nations decade on Biodiversity 2011-2020, this study looked at the educational impact of visiting zoos and aquariums.

By looking at visitors’ biodiversity understanding and knowledge of actions to help protect biodiversity before and after their visit, we were able to assess how effective our educational strategies are.

This study provided compelling evidence that zoo and aquarium visits can have positive educational impacts relating to biodiversity targets set by the United Nations.

Project detail

The United Nations Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 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". With over 700 million visits worldwide, zoos and aquariums are ideally positioned to contribute to this objective.

This study is part of the largest ever global evaluation of the educational impacts of zoos and aquariums. Over 5,000 participants from 26 institutions took part in a pre- and post-visit survey, designed to measure our two variables; biodiversity understanding and knowledge of pro-diversity actions that could be achieved at an individual level.

We found that there was a significant increase in respondents with an understanding of biodiversity from pre-visit (69.8%) to post-visit (75.1%). Similarly, 58.8% of participants could identify actions to help biodiversity post-visit, in comparison to 50.5% pre-visit.

Our findings offer compelling evidence that zoos and aquariums can have positive educational impacts relating to biodiversity targets set by the United Nations.

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Project team

Key Facts

More respondents demonstrated evidence of biodiversity understanding after a zoo visit
More respondents could identify actions to help protect biodiversity after a zoo visit
Zoos and aquariums can have positive educational impacts relating to UN biodiversity targets.

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