Understanding attitudes towards native wildlife and biodiversity in the UK: the role of zoos

Journal article


Consorte-McCrea, A., Bainbridge, A., Fernandez, A., Nigbur, D., McDonnell, S., Morin, A. and Grente, O. 2016. Understanding attitudes towards native wildlife and biodiversity in the UK: the role of zoos. World Sustainability Series. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47883-8_17
AuthorsConsorte-McCrea, A., Bainbridge, A., Fernandez, A., Nigbur, D., McDonnell, S., Morin, A. and Grente, O.
Abstract

The present paper draws from a study of the role of zoos in forming attitudes towards biodiversity and native wild carnivores that are considered for reintroduction. The project is being developed by an interdisciplinary team (wildlife conservation, psychology, education) working towards the development of a questionnaire to investigate this topic in the UK.

Research suggests that experiences with live animals in zoos may encourage empathy, through personal connection, which in turn facilitates greater concern towards biodiversity. Concomitantly, the reintroduction of wild carnivores to their native habitats may contribute to biodiversity by helping regulate ecosystem dynamics. Carnivores also carry a rich cultural and historical heritage. IUCN guidelines state the need for public support to establish a reintroduced population in the wild, therefore, carnivore restoration efforts benefit from the understanding of the human dimensions.

A pilot study was carried out in Kent (spring 2015) using focus groups and interviews to investigate attitudes towards biodiversity, with particular focus on two species of carnivores native to the British Isles and currently considered for reintroduction (the European lynx Lynx lynx and the pine marten Martes martes) and the role of zoos in promoting support towards biodiversity conservation. Results suggest an association between seeing native wild carnivore species in the zoo and emotional responses such as ‘breaking down fears’, but also concerns about a disconnect between people and nature, and misunderstanding about the role of zoos in ‘protecting’ species. Below we offer a discussion of the themes that emerged from the analysis of focus groups and interviews in relation to biodiversity.

KeywordsBiodiversity, environmental sustainability, zoos, wild carnivores, attitudes, narrative.
Year2016
JournalWorld Sustainability Series
PublisherSpringer
ISSN2199-7373
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-47883-8_17
FunderFutures Initiative, CCCU
Publication dates
Print30 Dec 2016
Publication process dates
Deposited01 Mar 2017
AcceptedOct 2016
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished
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An analysis of the British public's concerns regarding climate change legistration
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Carnivore v people conflict: The maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus) in the Southeast of Brazil
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Paying the price of integration: a longitudinal study of south Asian children's acculturation experience in British primary schools
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Acculturation experiences of British Asian primary school children: why 'integration' is not a closed case
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Intergroup identity perceptions and their implications for intergroup forgiveness: The Common Ingroup Identity Model and its efficacy in the field
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Social capital, ethnicity and children's well-being: aspects of social capital in the everyday lives of British Punjabi children
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The use of religious metaphors by UK newspapers to describe and denigrate climate change
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Attitudes, norms, identity and environmental behaviour: using an expanded theory of planned behaviour to predict participation in a kerbside recycling programme
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Acculturation, well-being and classroom behaviour among white British and British Asian primary-school children in the south-east of England: validating a child-friendly measure of acculturation attitudes
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