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Effects of Live Animal Demonstrations on Zoo Visitors' Retention of Information

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Animal demonstrations accompanied by narration constitute one way children's zoos are attempting to move toward programs that emphasize educational messages. A wider and increasingly sophisticated range of educational messages have been incorporated into demonstrations with the intention of increasing their appeal and educational value for adults as well as children. In an evaluation of the “Animal All-Star Show” at the Brookfield Zoo's Children's Zoo, 54 adult visitors were interviewed on-site after attending the show, and 34 adult visitors were interviewed by phone six weeks after the show in order to measure retention of educational messages. The results of both the on-site and delayed interviews indicated that the overall objective of the demonstrations—to highlight the animals' special abilities and show how people and animals work together—was being achieved. Remarkably high retention rates (as high as 83%) were attained with respect to a number of educational messages. The evaluation results also indicated that minor modifications to the demonstrations were needed to clarify intended messages about wild animals. These findings suggest that it is possible to investigate the outcomes of animal demonstrations and utilize the evaluation results to improve show content and activities.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2752/089279392787011557

Publication date: June 1, 1992

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