Dolphin Shows and Interaction Programs: Benefits for Conservation Education?
Miller, L.J., Zeigler-Hill, V., Mellen, J., Koeppel, J., Greer, T. and Kuczaj, S. (2013), Dolphin Shows and Interaction Programs: Benefits for Conservation Education?. Zoo Biol., 32: 45–53. doi: 10.1002/zoo.21016

cover.gifDolphin shows and dolphin interaction programs are two types of education programs within zoological institutions used to educate visitors about dolphins and the marine environment. The current study examined the short- and long-term effects of these programs on visitors' conservation-related knowledge, attitude, and behavior. Participants of both dolphin shows and interaction programs demonstrated a significant short-term increase in knowledge, attitudes, and behavioral intentions. Three months following the experience, participants of both dolphin shows and interaction programs retained the knowledge learned during their experience and reported engaging in more conservation-related behaviors. Additionally, the number of dolphin shows attended in the past was a significant predictor of recent conservation-related behavior suggesting that repetition of these types of experiences may be important in inspiring people to conservation action. These results suggest that both dolphin shows and dolphin interaction programs can be an important part of a conservation education program for visitors of zoological facilities

“Many people will never get a chance to see a dolphin in the wild, however here in Chicago and the surrounding areas people can visit the Brookfield Zoo and see a dolphin up close and personal. What’s great is that not only do they get to see a dolphin, but research suggests people that have gone to a dolphin show or participated in an interaction program were more educated and reported engaging in more conservation-related behaviors that help wild dolphins. While we still have a long way to go, we are learning more and more about how zoos and aquariums help inspire people to conservation action,” said Lance Miller, Ph.D., Sr. Director of Animal Welfare Research, Chicago Zoological Society.

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