Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Geography and Environmental Resources

First Advisor

Duram , Leslie


Zoos engage individuals with species and education opportunities that they may have never meet on their own; specifically, education regarding visitor’s sustainability habits. This thesis investigates the extent to which adult participants believe their sustainability behaviors, such as recycling and water usage habits, have been impacted by their childhood zoo visitation rates, and discusses the long-term impact zoos have on what has been termed “socially acceptable sustainability behavior.” A survey of 136 Southern Illinois University Carbondale students of various majors found that a majority individual does not remember learning sustainability behaviors while visiting zoos; however, participants believe that visiting zoos has impacted their overall level of environmental concern, primarily regarding animal welfare and species conservation. The initial analysis of the findings suggest that zoos need to develop new ways of engaging visitors regarding sustainability behavior and provide post-visit experiences that reinforce and extend sustainability messages and action. Further research and analysis are required to verify these claims.




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