Zoos as a context for reinforcing environmentally responsible behaviour: The dual challenges that zoo educators have set themselves
A strong focus for zoo education is inspiring visitors to care for the environment and this inevitably means reinforcing messages that relate to the adoption of sustainable lifestyles. Since lifestyle changes are likely to involve some level of personal cost or sacrifice, zoo educators are faced with the challenge of aligning this objective with the visitor expectation of a recreational day out to see the animals with the family. In order to evidence their effectiveness as education providers, zoo must also evaluate their educational activities and this represents a second challenge. The Learning Together intervention was devised specifically to address these two challenges as single parent families participated in zoo-based workshops with themes that related to environmentally responsible lifestyles. Results from focus groups in the zoo and semi-structured interviews in the community several weeks later showed that parents had gained a new understanding of the role of zoos and were motivated to make lifestyle changes that persisted over the lifetime of the project.
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