In this study, we analyzed the opinions of primary-school children from Portugal and Spain about zoos. The sample consisted of 560 pupils, mean age 11.38 years and in the 6th grade of schooling. For the purpose of this study, a two-part questionnaire was designed. In the first part, children were asked to name up to three positive and negative aspects of these institutions. Special attention was given to aspects related to animal welfare. In the second part, they had to express their opinion about 18 statements relating to different perspectives toward zoos: six were anthropocentric statements (in favor of zoos), six were biocentric (against zoos), and six ecocentric (partially supporting their existence). The results were analyzed for the whole sample but also according to the children’s country, gender, and type of visit (with school or exclusively with parents and relatives). Children tended to highlight the facilities and the amusements on offer, but the contact with animals and the way animals are treated were also in evidence. On the whole, the children supported the existence of zoos, and disagreed more often with the biocentric statements. Even so, the Spanish children, as compared with the Portuguese, were more in agreement with the biocentric perspective. However, children who went to zoos in a formal context (school visit) tended to be more anthropocentric than the ones who went with family/relatives. This tendency may be related to the fact that school contents tend to highlight the educational and conservationist roles of zoos and focus less on the controversial dimension associated with these places. But this tendency needs further research.
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