Conservation education in free-choice learning environments : the effects of animals and interpretation Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/qz20sw33r

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  • With 150 million people visiting accredited zoos and aquariums annually, these institutions have the unique opportunity to present conservation-oriented messages to a large and receptive audience. The purpose of this study was to explore the role of interpretation and/or the viewing of live animals in the communication of these messages. Research took place at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and the Hatfield Marine Science Center, both located in Newport, Oregon. After viewing these institutions’ respective sea otter exhibits and interpretive programs, participants completed a questionnaire about their conservation attitudes and beliefs, as well as their knowledge of otter natural history. A follow-up survey was also conducted to determine if any long-term changes could be documented as a result of their visit. This study found that visitors who heard the interpretive talk are more familiar with sea otter natural history and could list more specific actions to help these animals than the study's other participants. This group also reported behavior changes as a result of their visit that were not necessarily preceded by a change in attitude. Also included in this thesis are recommendations for researchers and the Oregon Coast Aquarium, as well as implications for the field.
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