Research shows a visit to a zoo boosts science and environment knowledge

May 27, 2011

Research from the University of Warwick shows a trip to the zoo can boost your child's science and conservation education more than books or classroom teaching alone.

In research conducted at ZSL London Zoo, more than 3,000 school children aged between seven and 14 were asked about their knowledge of , habitat and and then tested again after their trip.

The results show that 53% had a positive change in educational or conservation-related knowledge areas, personal concern for or new empowerment to participate in . The study proves that their trip around the zoo provided a statistically significant increase in scientific learning about animals and habitats. When zoo visits were supplemented by an educational presentation by zoo staff this increase in learning almost doubled against self-guided visits.

Eric Jensen, a Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick, who produced the report said: "Globally, more than a tenth of the world's population passes through zoos annually so the potential is there to reach a huge audience.

"In recent years zoos have come under criticism for failing to demonstrate educational impact with certain lobbying groups arguing that it's cruel to keep animals captive. But zoos have been changing for years now to offer more educational and conservation information; 'behind the scenes' access for visitors; learning about habitat conservation work – all of which culminate in a better engagement experience for the visitor."

Children came away with a greater understanding of ideas such as conservation, habitat and extinction. Amongst those who had not previously registered a concern about species extinction, 39% switched to registering such a concern directly after a zoo trip.

The children were asked to draw their favourite animals and habitats before and after their trip to the zoo. The drawings were analysed and showed some remarkable improvements. Some 51% of ten-year-olds showed a real change in the drawings and the use of correct scientific terms such as 'canopy' and 'rainforest' and had a higher amount of animals placed in the correct , e.g. a meerkat drawn in the desert.

Eric added: "The research clearly shows the valuable role that zoos can play in children's science learning. So with another Bank Holiday fast approaching, why not swap the theme park for a good ? Your kids and their favourite animals may thank you in years to come!"

Explore further: Self-made billionaires more likely to give than inheritors

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

National Zoo scimitar-horned oryx going into the wild

Mar 04, 2008

A male scimitar-horned oryx from the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s Conservation and Research Center in Front Royal, Va., is playing an important role in ensuring the species does not vanish from the planet.

Relocation of endangered Chinese turtle may save species

May 21, 2008

There are only four specimens of the Yangtze giant softshell turtle left on Earth—one in the wild and three in captivity. In order to save this species from extinction, conservation partners from the Wildlife ...

Endangered gopher frogs bred in zoo

Apr 08, 2008

Tennessee's Memphis Zoo says it has successful started the first captive breeding program for endangered Mississippi gopher frogs.

Researchers urge more prominent role for zoos

Mar 17, 2011

Of around seven land vertebrate species whose survival in the wild is threatened one is also kept in captivity. These and other data on the protection of species in zoos and aquaria have now been revealed ...

Recommended for you

Self-made billionaires more likely to give than inheritors

46 minutes ago

A study by economists at the University of Southampton suggests that billionaires who have built their own fortunes are more likely to pledge to donate a large portion of their wealth to charities, than those who are heirs ...

Recessions result in lower birth rates in the long run

16 hours ago

While it is largely understood that birth rates plummet when unemployment rates soar, the long-term effects have never been clear. Now, new research from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public ...

Human trafficking, an invisible problem

20 hours ago

Human trafficking is a problem about which little is known in Spain, due to both the lack of reliable figures as well as the poor coordination among international police forces and the social permissiveness with regard to ...

The scarring effects of primary-grade retention?

Sep 26, 2014

An article released by Social Forces titled, "The Scarring Effects of Primary-Grade Retention? A Study of Cumulative Advantage in the Educational Career" by Megan Andrew explores the effect of scarring in the educational career ...

User comments : 0