People do not care about what they do not know. That is why the more connected with nature we are, the more likely we are to engage with biological conservation. Considering the proportion of the world population living in urban areas and the tendency for urbanization to increase, zoos and aquariums can play a key role in connecting people with animals they would not normally see in their daily lives. So for my research I want to know:
(1) Is a visit to the Zoo enough to increase people's understanding of biodiversity?
The impacts of a visit to the Zoo can be related to the diversity of animals on display. Different species vary in their power to elicit a connection with the visitors: larger and charismatic species are preferred over small and lesser-known species.. However, biodiversity is related to the diversity of life forms that inhabit the planet, not just large charismatic species such as polar bears and giraffes! So it makes sense that zoos should aim to have a broad range of types of animals on display. With this research, That is why I also want to know:
(2) Is exposing visitors to a broader taxonomic range of species an effective strategy to impact zoo visitors’ understanding of what biodiversity actually is?
For more in depth info check the link below, I was interviewed about my research project by Katrina Tisdale, my Laurentian Science Communication classmate.