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Enhancing effectiveness of the Love Your Locals campaign
Zoos Victoria’s Love Your Locals campaign aims to raise the profile of 20 Victorian terrestrial species that, without our help, may disappear from the wild within 10 years.
To save these species we think people need to get to know them better, so our campaign uses a variety of ways to tell their story and engage with our visitors and the wider community. The Love your Locals campaign uses street art, love letters in the newspaper and a team of characters know as Zooperman and the Extinction Fighters.
As we have not undertaken a campaign on such little known species before, we wanted to find out what it is about the various local animals, and other animals at our zoos, that resonate with our visitors.
This research focussed on understanding what factors influenced the willingness of Melbourne Zoo visitors to support and participate in the conservation of endangered species. Factors that were considered included:
- endemism (whether local animals are specific to this area)
- conservation status (how threatened a species is)
- familiarity (how well visitors could relate to a species)
- the zoo experience
To investigate what factors resonate with visitors when it comes to the zoo experience, with a particular emphasis on those that can be applied to our 20 priority Fighting Extinction species and strategies for appropriate conservation actions to pursue in the future.
A ‘post-visit’ response survey was completed by 250 visitors to Melbourne Zoo in 2012. Questions addressed the importance of endemism, conservation status, familiarity and the zoo experience to the Zoo’s ability to encourage an emotional connection to species and encourage behaviours that assist its conservation and biodiversity more generally.
- Zoos can promote an emotional connection to species through effective exhibit design, opportunities for close-up experiences and interpretation
- Emotional connections to species lead to pro-conservation behaviours that are specific to particular ‘favourite’ species as well as those that benefit biodiversity more generally
- People respond positively to a species when it is highly endangered, and can be saved in the wild. They were also influenced by how well they felt they could understand the behaviour and emotion of a particular species
- Zoos Victoria will use these findings to increase the effectiveness of our Love your Locals campaign in the future
Primary researcher: Dr Jeffrey Skibins
Participating organisations: Zoos Victoria; University of St. Francis