This study uses a multi-year temporal climate analogue approach to explore zoo visitor responses to seasonal climatic anomalies and assess the impacts of projected climate change on zoo visitation in Toronto, Canada. A new method for selecting a representative weather station was introduced which ranks surrounding stations based on “climatic distance” rather than physical distance alone. Two years representing anomalously warm temperature conditions and two years representing climatically normal temperature conditions were identified for each season from within the study period from 1999 to 2015. Two years representing anomalously wet precipitation conditions and two years representing anomalously dry precipitation conditions were also identified. F
-tests and t
-tests were employed to determine if the apparent differences in zoo visitation between the temperature and precipitation paired groupings were statistically significant. A “selective ensemble” of seasonal Global Climate Model (GCM) output from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Fifth Assessment Report was used to determine when these anomalous temperature and precipitation conditions may become the norm in the future. When anomalously warm winters and springs occurred within the historical record, total zoo visitation in those seasons increased significantly. Inversely, when anomalously warm summers occurred, total summer season zoo visitation decreased significantly. Temperature anomalies in the autumn season did not result in any significant differences in total autumn season zoo visitation. Finally, apart from in the spring season, there were no significant differences in total zoo visitation between anomalously wet and dry seasons.
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