Theatre performances in zoos can be effective in increasing knowledge of important conservation messages, a study at the University of York has revealed.
The study of puppet theatre performances watched by more than 14,000 children and 16,000 adults at Yorkshire’s Flamingo Land, showed a 22 per cent increase in the accuracy of knowledge relating to animals and their conservation in children and an 18 per cent increase in adults.
Previous research has shown that conventional zoo education schemes significantly increase learning in school children.
Many visitors to zoos, particularly those with theme parks, however, are seeking entertainment, rather than to be educated, and therefore it is essential to conduct further study into the education experiences of zoo visitors.
Dr Sarah Spooner, who completed the research as part of her PhD at the University of York’s Department of Environment and Geography, said: “Since the value and ethics of live animal performances at zoos has been brought into question, zoos have been looking at new ways to deliver ‘edutainment’ to a broad audience.