Visiting Zoos And Aquariums Key For Inspiring And Educating Children

15 Sep 2015

New research confirms visiting zoological facilities inspires British children and adults alike to care about animals and the natural world, and can even spark a desire for children to work directly with animals.

The two surveys, conducted by YouGov in partnership with SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, for the first time asked over 1,000 GB children (aged 8-15)* and for the second year running polled 2,000 GB adults, including parents, whether they felt zoos, marine parks, aquariums and safari parks played a role in animal conservation and education, as well as their appetite for visiting these attractions.

Findings concluded that conservation and education is significantly important to the younger generation, with 82% of children agreeing that zoos, aquariums, safari parks and marine parks play an important role in protecting animals in need in the wild, and almost nine out of 10 (88%) agreeing that they help people understand animals and the natural world.

Parents also felt strongly that there was an educational value in visiting a zoo or marine park (84%), and agreed that zoos, safari parks, marine parks and aquariums play an important role in conservation (81%), a consistent sentiment from 2014’s survey.

Dr. Christopher Dold, Vice President of Veterinary Services, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, says:

“Zoos and aquariums have a vital role to play in educating the world about the plight of animals and to studying and conserving them. If we want future generations to have the same privilege we have had – to see, hear, smell and experience these majestic animals – we must continue to care for them in zoos and in the wild.”

The results also indicate that up-close connections with animals in marine parks can encourage children to pursue a career in zoology or conservation, with over a third of children aged eight to 15 in Great Britain (37%), and almost half of all of the girls surveyed (47%), saying that they wanted to work with animals after visiting a zoo, marine park or aquarium.

Alyx Milne, 28, sea lion trainer at Blackpool Zoo, says: “It was being able to see animals like sea lions and dolphins up-close at zoos and aquariums, both in the UK and abroad when I was on family holidays, that made me realise that I wanted to work with them. People come from all different backgrounds and not everyone has the opportunity to see these animals in the wild, so it’s important that they’re able to come to a zoo to learn more about them and how conservation can protect them in the future.”

Overall, across both surveys, the interest in visiting zoos, marine parks and aquariums is high, with 80% of children surveyed wanting to visit a zoological facility whilst on holiday abroad and 9 out of 10 of all adults surveyed having visited a zoo or marine park. More than half of parents (53%) said that they supported zoological facilities displaying animals.

Dave Ody, Sales & Marketing Director, UK & Ireland, SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, says:

“It’s clear that British people, particularly parents and children, value zoological facilities and are increasingly aware of the vital role they play in helping to protect wild populations. With the plight of animals in the wild being front page news almost every day, the educational benefits of visiting these facilities cannot be underestimated.”

Now conservation conscious holidaymakers can give back to animals and the environment by simply having fun with SeaWorld’s Fun2Fund initiative. Fun2Fund allows visitors pre-purchasing SeaWorld Extras, ranging from Behind-the-Scenes tours to up-close encounters such as interacting with dolphins or feeding giraffes on a Serengeti Safari and even Quick Queue passes, to support vital conservation work, as $2 for every SeaWorld Parks Extra tour booked goes towards the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund. Projects supported by the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, which was established in 2003 and has donated more than $11 million worldwide to date, include funding innovative technology to help prevent rhino poaching and hand-raising abandoned penguin chicks in the Arctic. www.seaworldparksfun2fund.com

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is one of the world's most foremost zoological organisations and a global leader in animal welfare, training, husbandry and veterinary care. The company collectively cares for one of the largest zoological collections in the world and has helped lead advances in the care of animals, as well as inspiring guests to help conserve the natural world through up-close animal encounters, educational exhibits and innovative entertainment. To find out more about SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment's conservation, education and rescue efforts visit www.seaworldparks.co.uk/conservation.

For further information visit www.seaworldparks.co.uk.

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