ERIC Number: ED196769
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1979-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
"Do Giraffes Ever Sit?": A Study of Visitor Perceptions at the National Zoological Park, Smithsonian Institution.
Wolf, Robert L.; Tymitz, Barbara L.
This study explores why people come to the National Zoological Park, the value of their visit, what they learn, and how the overall experience of visiting the zoo affects them. The study was undertaken over six months. It is part of a series to evaluate how various bureaus of the Smithsonian Institutions influence the public through their diverse programs and exhibits. The major objective is to provide the zoo staff with a type of information that will help them improve zoo practices. The document is presented in six sections. Section I offers an overview of the study. Section II explains methodology. Procedures included gathering a fact finding team (composed of zoo staff members, psychology interns, volunteers, and a methodologist), conducting interviews with zoo staff and visitors, observing visitor behavior, analyzing data from interviews and observations, and preparing a final report. Section III provides descriptive data on visitors--age, sex, occupation, residence, etc. Section IV analyzes and discusses data. Findings indicated that people came to the National Zoo for reasons of tradition, relaxation, entertainment, education, and to observe animals which might soon be extinct. They expressed particular concern for animal comfort, zoo cleanliness, and a non-crowded environment. They most enjoyed observing the animals and questioning zoo tour guides for further information. Many respondents indicated a need for self-guided tours. Section V identifies areas for additional study, including providing for specialized learning and guarding against misconceptions. The final section offers conclusions. A major conclusion was that visitors are more knowledgeable and curious than ever before. Implications for the zoo staff are discussed. (DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. Office of Museum Programs.