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Experiencing polar bears in the zoo: feelings and cognitions in relation to a visitor's conservation attitude

By M.M. Marseille, B.H.M. Elands and M.L. van den Brink


This article explores which feelings and cognitions are involved in visitor experiences of zoo polar bears and how this experience relates to a visitor's conservation attitude. Data were collected through qualitative interviews with 30 visitors in two Dutch zoos. Most respondents believed that a polar bear belongs in the wild but also acknowledged the conservation function of zoos. A typology of zoo visitor experiences of polar bears was derived and consists of (a) ecological (multiple feelings, connection with wild polar bear, and climate change awareness), (b) emotional (multiple feelings, connections with captive, and wild polar bear), (c) factual (limited feelings, connection with captive polar bear), (d) preservation (few feelings, connections with wild polar bear, and climate change awareness) and (e) indifferent (limited feelings, no connection). Results showed that visitors with an ecological experience had the strongest conservation attitude, and visitors with an indifferent experience had the weakest conservation attitud

Year: 2012
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Provided by: NARCIS
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