In this blog post, we take a peek into a survey of visitors at the Singapore Zoo.
Biodiversity, or biological diversity, refers to the variety of living organisms occurring within any one area, and encompasses not only diversity within species (both animals and plants) but also diversity between species and diversity of ecosystems1. Species extinction in present day however, is occurring at an alarming rate due to the unsustainable development practices of humans that have led to changes in the global environment2 & 3.
To help stop and in time, reverse this loss of biodiversity of the earth, the United Nations declared 2011 to 2020 to be the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. In this regard, a Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and specific targets called the Aichi Targets, were formulated.
The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA) – the unifying body for the community of zoos and aquariums worldwide, is an official partner of the Convention on Biological Diversity during this decade on biodiversity and is dedicated towards advocating the message: “Living in harmony with nature”.
With more than 700 million people visiting zoos and aquariums all over the world every year4, these centers of education and conservation are in the perfect position to increase understanding of biodiversity among visitors and raise awareness on personal actions one can take to help protect biodiversity.
To complement new tools that WAZA has developed to contribute to the cause, a visitor survey is being conducted between 2012 and 2015 to evaluate global biodiversity literacy. The Singapore Zoo is proud to be one of 30 zoos and aquariums across the world to contribute to this study.
Results from the 2012 survey show that average understanding of ‘what is biodiversity’ and knowledge of actions to help protect biodiversity both significantly increased during the course of the respondents’ visits to zoos and aquariums5. This indicates that these institutions play an important role in assisting to achieve Aichi Biodiversity Target 1 because they are not only boosting the number of people who understand biodiversity but also those who are conscious of measures they may take to conserve and use biodiversity sustainably.
Following up on the 2012 study, we commenced a second round of surveys in January this year to acquire more compelling evidence of how zoo and aquarium visits make a positive contribution towards realizing the Aichi target. Thank you if you have participated in either surveys. Their results help us strive toward our goal to make people more aware of the value of biodiversity and the role they can play in conservation.
1. ˆ Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2000) Sustaining Life on Earth
Retrieved on 30 January 2015 from http://www.cbd.int/convention/guide/default.shtml
2. ˆ Pimm, S.L., Russell, G.J., Gittleman, J.L. & Brooks, T.M. (1995) The Future Of Biodiversity. Science, 269(5222), 347-350. DOI: 10.1126/science.269.5222.347.
3. ˆ Sala, O.E., Chapin III, F.S., Armesto, J.J., Berlow, E., Bloomfield, J., Dirzo, R., Huber-Sanwald, E., Huenneke, L.F., Jackson, R.B., Kinzig, A., Leemans, R., Lodge, D.M., Mooney, H.A., Oesterheld, M., Poff, N.L., Sykes, M.T., Walker, B.H., Walker, M. & Wall, D.H. (2000) Global Biodiversity Scenarios for the Year 2100. Science, 287(5459), 1770-1774. DOI: 10.1126/science.287.5459.1770.
4 ˆ Gusset, M., & G. Dick. 2011. The global reach of zoos and aquariums in visitor numbers and conservation expenditures. Zoo Biology 30(5), 566–569. DOI: 10.1002/zoo.20369.
5. ˆ Moss, A., Jensen, E. & Gusset, M. (2014) A Global Evaluation of Biodiversity Literacy in Zoo and Aquarium Visitors. Gland: WAZA Executive Office.