Wildlife encounters - understanding the visitor experience

20 March 2019

The days of the Victorian menagerie may be long behind us, but modern-day zoos and aquariums remain popular tourist attractions among people fascinated by wildlife.

Giraffe at Taronga Zoo by Eva Rinaldi via WikimediaUnlike the spectacles of centuries past, however, which were typically open only to royal or noble visitors, today’s zoos and aquariums function as increasingly vital sites of both conservation and learning – and they attract millions of visitors every year.

Some of the world’s largest zoos, such as the Bronx Zoo in New York, are home to thousands of animals representing hundreds of species, providing a unique opportunity for them to positively influence their visitors’ awareness of the issues facing the world’s animals.

In a series of projects spanning more than a decade, a team of UQ researchers has helped zoos, aquariums, museums and heritage sites around the world to evaluate and improve the experiences they offer to visitors, while also positively influencing their visitors’ environmental behaviours.