Conservation education programs are listed as priority actions for almost every threatened species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. Zoos play an important role in delivering such programs, yet evidence of zoo education in many non-western countries is limited. Here, we evaluate animal identification signage prevalence and quality at zoo exhibits and investigate whether animal welfare, zoo type (accredited, government, and private), admission fee, zoo size, and proximity to urban centers are influencing factors. We used hornbills (Bucerotidae) as a model taxon, surveyed hornbill signage, and conducted welfare assessments of hornbill exhibits. We developed scoring frameworks and applied content analysis to analyze signage quality. Our results show that out of 18 zoos that displayed hornbills, 15 had hornbill signage. However, of the 106 hornbill exhibits in these zoos, 33% had no signage. We also found that signage presence or absence at individual zoos and signage quality is strongly correlated with animal welfare quality. Zoo type is a key factor in predicting signage and welfare quality, with accredited zoos scoring highest for both signage and welfare, followed by government and private zoos. Private zoos charged higher admission than other zoo types, and zoo size and proximity to urban centers did not influence signage or welfare scores. Overall, we conclude that in our study, signage usage and quality are inadequate, highlighting the importance of compliance with robust zoo standards to improve education and welfare within zoos to support global conservation goals.
Shepherd, Chris R.Campera, Marco
Department of Social Sciences
Year of publication: 2022Date of RADAR deposit: 2022-09-14