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Conservation Education in Zoos and Aquaria


The EU-Zoos-XXI project, funded by the European Commission

For this large European project, I worked with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Upstream Public Engagement at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust

This work has yielded a groundbreaking new approach to the development of conservation education practices in zoos, following a model known as 'upstream public engagement'.

  • The report on the process of involving publics directly in the decision-making about how best to engage zoo visitors can be accessed HERE.
  • The report on the follow-up engagement process, which gathered further information about visitors' needs and clarified priorities as the implementation of the new conservation education practices progressed, can be found HERE
  • The preliminary impact evaluation report assessing the contribution of the changes made to Durrell Wildlife Park to pro-conservation and learning impacts on visitors can be found HERE. The presentation slides summarising these results can be accessed HERE.

Critical Review of Conservation Education Practices

Another part of this project focused on critically examining existing research and applying existing knowledge in the social sciences to the zoo and aquarium education context.

'Critical Review of Conservation Education Practices in European Zoos and Aquaria'

This report critically examines existing evidence of conservation education impacts from zoos/aquaria, then goes on to use existing knowledge from across the social sciences to identify better or worse interpretation practices in zoos and aquaria. The report brings some unpublished evaluation reports into the public domain for the first time through a critical review of their findings and methodology. It also has a lot of pictures of current interpretation practices collected from across Europe and to a much lesser extent the United States.

The ZSL London Zoo Evaluation Project, funded by the Greater London Authority

This two-year project evaluated the impacts of children's visits to London Zoo. It involved multiple studies using different methods, including a large-scale survey study and focus group studies with teachers and pupils.

  • The flagship study for this project was entitled (it can be accessed by clicking on the title below):

'Learning about Animals, Science and Conservation: Large-scale survey-based evaluation of the educational impact of the ZSL London Zoo Formal Learning programme'

  • There has also been a paper published in the open access journal Psychology & Society based on the pilot research for this large-scale survey project:

'Science learning at the zoo: Evaluating children’s developing understanding of animals and their habitats

Other research reports from this project include: