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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Science Policy

An Investigation into the Determining Factors of Zoo Visitor Attendances in UK Zoos
Published: Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Author: Andrew William Whitworth

by Andrew William Whitworth

The debate as to which animals are most beneficial to keep in zoos in terms of financial and conservative value is readily disputed; however, demographic factors have also been shown to relate to visitor numbers on an international level. The main aims of this research were: (1) To observe the distribution and location of zoos across the UK, (2) to develop a way of calculating zoo popularity in terms of the species kept within a collection and (3) to investigate the factors related to visitor numbers regarding admission costs, popularity of the collection in terms of the species kept and local demographic factors. Zoo visitor numbers were positively correlated with generated popularity ratings for zoos based on the species kept within a collection and admission prices (Pearson correlation: n?=?34, r?=?0.268, P?=?0.126 and n?=?34, r?=?-0.430, P?=?0.011). Animal collections are aggregated around large cities and tourist regions, particularly coastal areas. No relationship between demographic variables and visitor numbers was found (Pearson correlation: n?=?34, r?=?0.268, P?=?0.126), which suggests that the popularity of a zoo's collection relative to the types and numbers of species kept is more indicative of a collection's visitor numbers than its surrounding demographic figures. Zoos should incorporate generating high popularity scores as part of their collection planning strategies, to ensure that they thrive in the future, not only as tourist attractions but also as major conservation organizations.
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