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Conservation Education: Are Zoo Animals Effective Ambassadors and Is There Any Cost to Their Welfare?

1
School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University, Southwell NG25 0QF, UK
2
Jeanne Marchig International Centre for Animal Welfare Education, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH25 9RG, UK
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Academic Editor: Anna Loy
J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2(1), 41-65; https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010004
Received: 17 December 2020 / Revised: 22 January 2021 / Accepted: 22 February 2021 / Published: 27 February 2021
Animal ambassador encounters (AAE), where visitors come into close-contact with animals, are popular in zoos and are advocated as promoting connection to wild species. However, educational and animal-welfare implications are relatively unknown. We conducted a systematic literature review (PRISMA) to investigate visitor and animal outcomes of AAE. We identified 19 peer reviewed articles and 13 other records focused on AAEs. Although we found net positive or neutral impacts overall, several studies indicated that high-intensity visitor contact and long-term exposure may be detrimental to animal welfare. Most studies lacked rigour and claims were based on an absence of negative impacts rather than evidence of benefits. Multiple publications were derived from the same datasets and there were no standardised measures for either welfare or education impacts. Of the peer-reviewed articles, just two considered both education and welfare. Education studies often used perceived learning or only post-experience testing. Welfare studies used small samples (median n = 4; range 1–59), and limited measures of welfare. In order to justify the continued use of AAEs in modern zoos, animal welfare costs must be proven to be minimal whilst having demonstrable and substantial visitor educational value. Large-scale, standardised impact assessments of both education and welfare impacts are needed. View Full-Text
Keywords: human–animal interaction; animal–visitor interaction; public engagement; zoo; methodology; google scholar human–animal interaction; animal–visitor interaction; public engagement; zoo; methodology; google scholar
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MDPI and ACS Style

Spooner, S.L.; Farnworth, M.J.; Ward, S.J.; Whitehouse-Tedd, K.M. Conservation Education: Are Zoo Animals Effective Ambassadors and Is There Any Cost to Their Welfare? J. Zool. Bot. Gard. 2021, 2, 41-65. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010004

AMA Style

Spooner SL, Farnworth MJ, Ward SJ, Whitehouse-Tedd KM. Conservation Education: Are Zoo Animals Effective Ambassadors and Is There Any Cost to Their Welfare? Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens. 2021; 2(1):41-65. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010004

Chicago/Turabian Style

Spooner, Sarah L., Mark J. Farnworth, Samantha J. Ward, and Katherine M. Whitehouse-Tedd 2021. "Conservation Education: Are Zoo Animals Effective Ambassadors and Is There Any Cost to Their Welfare?" Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens 2, no. 1: 41-65. https://doi.org/10.3390/jzbg2010004

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