WE SURVEYED VISITORS BEFORE AND AFTER A ZOO VISIT, AND FOUND THAT THOSE WHO COULD RECALL SEEING THE CAMPAIGN MATERIALS HAD A SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED UNDERSTANDING OF BIODIVERSITY AT THE END OF THEIR ZOO TRIP.
In 2014/15, we surveyed visitors at the 20 zoos and aquariums across the globe taking part in the ‘Biodiversity is Us’ campaign. The goals of the campaign were to increase understanding of biodiversity amongst zoo visitors, and to teach zoo visitors actions they could carry out to protect biodiversity. The campaign included materials for zoos and aquariums to display, including graphic panels and short films. A ‘Biodiversity is Us’ mobile phone app was also available to download for free.
Visitors were selected upon entering the zoo or aquarium and surveyed about their biodiversity knowledge. We asked them what they thought of when presented with the word ‘biodiversity’, and what actions they thought they could take to save species. Upon leaving the zoo or aquarium, we asked visitors the same questions. The results were matched so that we could measure the scores of the same person before and after their zoo visit, allowing us to see individual changes as well as general changes.
Among all visitors surveyed both at the start and end of their visit, the proportion of zoo visitors who were able to display some form of biodiversity understanding had increased by 8.9% after the zoo visit. We asked zoo visitors whether they could recall seeing the ‘Biodiversity is Us’ materials around the zoo. Those who did showed a significantly greater increase in biodiversity understanding than those who did not. The level of knowledge of appropriate actions to take in order to protect biodiversity also increased across the zoo visit. There was a 22.3% increase in the proportion of people who were able to provide an action that could help to conserve species that they could take at an individual level.
These results suggest that the ‘Biodiversity is Us’ campaign is a useful tool in helping to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 1: ‘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.’
The Aichi Targets are an important factor in the United Nations Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. Based on the findings of this study, we recommend that zoos and aquariums increase the level of biodiversity-related content in public-facing areas of their institutions. By doing this, an increase in visitor understanding of biodiversity may result, and so zoos can meaningfully contribute towards meeting Aichi Target 1.
Moss, A., Jensen, E. & Markus, G. 2017. Evaluating the impact of a global biodiversity education campaign on zoo and aquarium visitors, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, 15(5), 243-247.