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Taronga is committed to developing experiences that connect our visitors to wildlife, develop a deep understanding of the issues that they face and inspire and empower action to conserve wildlife and habitats. Understanding how a visit to Taronga or Taronga Western Plains Zoos can affect the attitudes and behaviours of visitors is a critical element in delivering our vision and improving the visitor experience.

We have strong collaborations with psychology researchers and are part of a team of Australian zoos seeking to understand the impact of experiences they provide on visitors, to constantly improve design of their programs and maximise the likelihood of impacting on visitors' attitudes and behaviours.

Current Projects:

Relationship between the Emotional Intensity of Visitor Experiences and Visitors Attitudes and Behavioural Intentions towards Conservation

One theory suggests that long-term attitude and behavioural impact can be achieved through hard thinking, or elaboration. If people elaborate, then they will form attitudes that are long-lasting, and are predictive of behaviour. The right messages and heightened emotion may increase elaboration. That is, emotional experiences may encourage people to think hard and elaborate, leading to attitudes that are long-lasting and predictive of behaviour.

This research project in partnership with Monash University Research Unit, explores the relationship between emotional arousal experienced through visitor experiences and the visitor's attitudes and behavioural intentions towards conservation. Two phases of the research project are planned.

Fostering pro-wildlife Behaviours of Zoo Visitors through Strategic Communication

Furthering the partnership with the Monash University Tourism Research Unit and other regional zoos includes a research project aimed at enhancing the persuasion potential of zoos to influence visitors’ pro-wildlife behaviours.

Taronga believes that zoos are uniquely placed to offer wildlife experiences that persuade our visitors to take up and engage in behaviours that reduce some of the threats to wildlife and their habitats. The aim of this project is to apply behaviour change theory and compare a range of persuasion communication approaches to achieve our goals.