Skip to main content

Understanding the Public’s Trust in Zoos and Aquariums

PGAV destinology hippo

In the latest edition of their Destinology research series, St. Louis-based design firm PGAV Destinations probes the public’s views in Communicating Conservation: Strengthening the Public’s Trust.

Conducted in partnership with H2R Market Research, Destinology surveyed 1,006 people across America to better understand their perception of conservation and the role of zoos and aquariums.

PGAV destinology “More than three-fourths of our respondents support wildlife conservation and are looking for ways to participate in it,” says John Kemper, Vice President and head of Zoo Design at PGAV Destinations. “And these respondents aren’t just members – they’re people who don’t even regularly visit zoos and aquariums.”

One of the most striking findings of Communicating Conservation is that the public’s number-one priority is that the care of the animals in residence must be exceptional. Guests want to be sure that a zoo or aquarium’s animals are receiving the best care possible, before they can be comfortable enough to support the institution’s conservation initiatives.

The report begins by exploring 2016 national visitor trends at zoos and aquariums: visitation rates, membership vs. single day-passes, the public’s expectations of conservation efforts, and the respondents’ own conservation efforts over the last two years. The survey identified primary motivators for the public to donate to zoo and aquarium conservation efforts, the first being simply ‘having the financial resources available to do so.’

Communicating Conservation reveals a very unique data set in our industry: that of the non-visitor,” says Stacey Ludlum, Director of Zoo and Aquarium Planning and Design at PGAV Destinations. “Nearly half of our respondents hadn’t visited a zoo or aquarium in the last two year; however, the majority of them feel these kinds of destinations are the absolute best places to learn about animals and wildlife.” Non-visitors offered reasons why they haven’t visited, what kinds of actions a zoo or aquarium could take to draw them through the front gate, and their awareness level of their local animal destination’s conservation efforts.

This issue of Destinology highlights a variety of perceptions of zoos vs. aquariums as conservation institutions, as well as people’s priorities when it comes to the current plight of animals. Those priorities may or may not actually reflect the true need, and the report compares and contrasts them. Communicating Conservation shares useful insights about the public’s most-preferred zoo and aquarium activities in a wide variety of categories, including mammal interactions, day-long experiences, major attractions, major renovations, interpretives, non-traditional experiences, and many more.

Communicating Conservation can be read in full here, and interested readers can subscribe for hard copies of this issue of Destinology, as well as other informative PGAV Destinations’ national research studies here. For additional studies on zoos and aquariums, explore Voice of the Visitor: 2017 Outlook on the Attractions Industry, Generation Z: A New Generation’s View on Zoos and Aquariums, and Releasing Wild Success.

Feature image: Fiona the hippo at Cincinnati Zoo

More from this author

Related content

Your web browser is out of date. Update your browser for more security, speed and the best experience on this site.

Find out how to update