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The Science of Nature

, 105:69 | Cite as

Beauty ranking of mammalian species kept in the Prague Zoo: does beauty of animals increase the respondents’ willingness to protect them?

  • Eva Landová
  • Petra Poláková
  • Silvie Rádlová
  • Markéta Janovcová
  • Miroslav Bobek
  • Daniel Frynta
Original Paper

Abstract

Aesthetic preferences for animals correspond with the species’ presence in the worldwide zoos and influence the conservation priorities. Here, we investigated the relationship between the willingness of respondents to protect mammals and some attributed characteristics such as their aesthetic beauty. Further, several methodological aspects of measuring mammalian beauty were assessed. Animal beauty was associated not only with the respondents’ willingness to protect the species but also with its attributed dangerousness and usefulness. We found that the most preferred animals were carnivores and ungulates, whilst smaller species of rodents and afrosoricids were unpopular. The main characteristics determining that an animal will be ranked as beautiful were complex fur pattern and body shape. We demonstrated that the position of mammalian species along the ‘beauty’ axis is surprisingly stable, no matter the form (illustrations vs photographs), context of stimulus presentation (several number of stimuli per family vs one randomly selected species per family), or the method of beauty evaluation (relative order vs Likert’s scale).

Keywords

Mammals Beauty Animal conservation Preferences Human perception Zoo 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Dr. Jakub Polák for critical reading of an earlier version of the manuscript. We thank all of the respondents who kindly participated in this project. We also thank the Prague Zoo, which allowed us to study the aesthetic preferences of the zoo visitors and provided us with the photographs of some of the tested species, and we thank Martina Nacházelová for painting some of the rarest species.

Author contributions

Conceived and designed the research: EL, DF, and MB; performed the research: PP and MJ; analysed the data: DF, PP, MJ, and SR; wrote the paper: EL, DF, PP, and SR.

Funding

This work was supported by GAUK nos. 1310414 and 346315 and GAČR (Czech Science Foundation) grant no. 17-15991S; personal costs of MJ and SR were partially covered by the project “Sustainability for the National Institute of Mental Health“, under grant number LO1611, with a financial support from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic under the NPU I program.

Compliance with ethical standards

All the respondents agreed to participate in the project voluntarily. Each subject provided a written informed consent and additional information about his/her gender, age, residence, education, parenthood, and pet keeping. The authors declare that the project was approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB), Faculty of Sciences, Charles University in Prague, approval no. 2013/7.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

114_2018_1596_MOESM1_ESM.xlsx (18 kb)
Online Resource 1. The list of species and the sources of the photos and illustrations used in the study. Species marked with * were included in the reduced set. (XLSX 17 kb)
114_2018_1596_MOESM2_ESM.xlsx (25 kb)
Online Resource 2. The rankings of beauty for three of the order-ranked sets included in the study, the body weight, and their sources. (XLSX 24 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Zoology, Faculty of ScienceCharles University in PraguePrague 2Czech Republic
  2. 2.National Institute of Mental HealthKlecanyCzech Republic
  3. 3.The Prague zoological gardenPrague 7Czech Republic

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