A sense of connection with animals, makes zoo and aquarium visitors more concerned about climate change than fellow Americans.
A US national survey has found that people who visit zoos and aquariums connection with animals leads them to be more environmentally aware and concerned about climate change than other Americans.
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The report “Global Climate Changes as Seen by Zoo and Aquarium Visitors” surveyed more than 7000 zoo and aquarium guests at 15 attractions around the US and found that 64% of visitors are ‘concerned or alarmed’ by climate change. Of the general public, only 39% expressed concern when asked and 35% said that they were ‘disengaged, doubtful or dismissive’ about the climate, as opposed to 17% of zoo and aquarium visitors.
The study was carried out and analysed by the Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network (CLiZEN), which includes Shedd Aquarium and non-visitor attitudes were collated by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication.
Of those surveyed, the report found that many zoo and aquarium guests felt a strong connection with the animals and nature in general, with 86% reporting this sense of connection.
“As an institution committed to conservation, Shedd’s mission is to connect the 2 million guests that walk through the aquarium doors annually to the living world, inspiring them to take action, especially with the critical issue of global warming, ” said Michelle Parker, Shedd’s vice president of Great Lakes programs and sustainability.
She went on to explain that the findings of the report present an opportunity to help guests make lifestyle changes which will help reduce their carbon footprint. Almost two-thirds of those asked believe that humans are responsible for global warming and that this will harm them in their lifetime, as well as future generations.
It’s also thought that those who visit zoos and aquariums are more likely to have friends who share their beliefs and will use visits to animal attractions to facilitate discussion. It was also found that visitors believe zoos and aquariums to be a trustworthy source of information when it comes to finding out how to reduce the effects of global warming.
“By fostering constructive discussions about climate change, our visitors can share ideas with friends and family about how to address human impact on the environment. As the world’s aquarium, we wanted to share simple ways that people can make a positive impact on the environment and the animals that depend on its health, ” continued Parker.
A new program will now be introduced to help people understand the implications of global warming and how they can take action, the program is expected to reach over 20 million visitors per year and a free e-book will be available for download.
Climate Change Education: A Primer for Zoos and Aquariums is available for download for educators, zoo practitioners, and anyone interested in learning more about climate change at www.lulu.com.