Zoo Talk pp 37-51 | Cite as

Visitors’ Knowledge of Zoos

  • Patricia G. Patrick
  • Sue Dale Tunnicliffe


Even though research in how and what people learn in zoos has become a focus in the past 20 years, future research needs to evaluate the basic biology and conservation knowledge visitors bring to the zoo. If zoo education programs pose a better understanding of what children know and think about the roles and purposes of zoological institutions, then zoo educators will have a construct upon which to scaffold educational material. The public’s knowledge of zoos is addressed in this chapter by (1) identifying the zoo visitor and their reasons for visiting the zoo, (2) determining the visitor’s perceptions of nature, (3) describing the importance of mental models, and (4) defining a model of the divergent and nonscientific knowledge and understandings people have of zoos. Providing a model of the knowledge or understandings people hold regarding zoos is an important tool that may be used when developing educational interactions. Moreover, this chapter defines the components of the informal learning model: (1) definition, (2) image, (3) interaction, and (4) information. The student’s mental model is molded by the informal learning experience.


Mental Model Informal Learning Biological Conservation Zoological Institution Conservation Organization 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patricia G. Patrick
    • 1
  • Sue Dale Tunnicliffe
    • 2
  1. 1.Texas Tech UniversityLubbockUSA
  2. 2.Institute of EducationUniversity of LondonLondonEngland UK

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