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Animal-visitor interactions in the modern zoo: conflicts and interventions

By E. J. Fernandez, M. A. Tamborski, S. R. Pickens, W. Timberlake

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Animal welfare, education, conservation, research, and entertainment are major goals of modern zoos, but they can be in conflict. For example, visitors enjoy learning about and observing natural behavior in captive animals, but visitors often want to observe and interact with the animals in close proximity. Unfortunately, proximity to and social interactions with humans induce stress for many species, particularly primates. We review two general classes of research examining animal-visitor interactions in zoos: (1) effects of exhibit design and the behavior of the animals on zoo visitors, and (2) effects of zoo visitors on the behavior of exhibited animals. We suggest that interventions based on careful attention to exhibit design, species characteristics, and visitor education can increase positive animal-visitor interactions and facilitate the multiple goals of modern zoos.

Date 2009
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 120
Issue 1/2
Pages 1-8
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
DOI 10.1016/j.applanim.2009.06.002
Language English
Author Address Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior, Indiana University, 1101 East 10th Street, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal behavior
  2. Animal rights
  3. Animal welfare
  4. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  5. Biological resources
  6. Conservation
  7. Education
  8. Effect
  9. Entertainment
  10. Goals
  11. Interactions
  12. Interventions
  13. Mammals
  14. objectives
  15. peer-reviewed
  16. Primates
  17. Social behavior
  18. targets
  19. Zoo and captive wild animals
  20. Zoological gardens
  21. Zoos
  1. peer-reviewed