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Visitor Perceptions of Nature Conservation at Helsinki Zoo

By Sanna Ojalammi, Nina V. Nygren

Category Journal Articles

These days zoos often claim that their main objective is the promotion of nature conservation and that they strive to educate their visitors about animals and nature conservation. But how do zoo visitors themselves perceive this emphasis on conservation education? In order to determine how Helsinki Zoo visitors perceive nature conservation during their visit, we undertook a qualitative analysis of 75 structured situational interviews and five autoethnographical visits. Our results show that there was only a limited understanding of nature conservation among the zoo visitors. Their perception follows the typical framing of nature conservation in zoos: conservation projects that embrace captive breeding, in-situ conservation collaboration, and the reintroduction of those species. Moreover, in the Helsinki Zoo case these perceptions may have been influenced by the fact that the zoo did not give concrete advice on how the visitors themselves can contribute to conservation, except in terms of donating money. Framing nature conservation in such ways distances it from visitors’ everyday lives.

Publication Title Anthrozoös
Volume 31
Issue 2
Pages 233-246
ISBN/ISSN 0892-7936
DOI 10.1080/08927936.2018.1434063
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Conservation
  2. Education
  3. Environment
  4. Human-animal interactions
  5. Zoos