London, May 29 (IANS) A trip to the zoo can be more informative for a child than all the books on science and conservation or even classroom teaching.
Research conducted by the University of Warwick at the London Zoo, involving more than 3,000 school children aged between 7-14, were asked about their knowledge of animals, habitat and conservation and then tested again after their trip.
The results show that 53 percent had a positive change in educational or conservation-related knowledge areas, personal concern for endangered species or new initiative to participate in conservation efforts.
When such trips were supplemented by an educational presentation by the zoo staff the increase in learning almost doubled against self-guided visits, according to a Warwick statement.
Eric Jensen, professor of sociology at Warwick, said: ‘Globally, more than a tenth of the world’s population passes through zoos annually so the potential is there to reach a huge audience.’
Children came away with a greater understanding of ideas such as conservation, habitat and extinction. Among those who had not previously registered a concern about species extinction, 39 percent switched to registering such a concern directly after a zoo trip.
Some 51 percent of the 10-year-olds showed a real change in the drawings and the use of correct scientific terms such as ‘canopy’ and ‘rainforest’ and had a higher amount of animals placed in the correct habitat, e.g. a meerkat drawn in the desert.