Born Free Foundation - Keep Wildlife in the Wild

Public Education

The Directive requires all zoos to have an Education Strategy that promotes:

“public education and awareness in relation to the conservation of biodiversity, particularly by providing information about the species exhibited and their natural habitats,”

(Art. 3. European Council Directive 1999/22/EC)

Evaluation of each zoo’s commitment to relevant public education, including information about the conservation of biodiversity, included assessing: the educational value of public presentations, shows and interactive handling sessions; the existence of classroom facilities; the proportion of species holdings¹ exhibited without species information; and the quality and accuracy of species’ information signs.

Evaluation of this signage was based on the requirements of the SMZP 'best practice criteria' which states, as a minimum, species signage should provide: the species common name, scientific name, natural habitat details, biological characteristics and the conservation status (Figs. 2 & 3). This is also consistent with the objectives of the Directive.

Figure 2. Example of signage in Poland, which meets the best practice criteria (SMZP).
Figure 3. Example of signage at a Zoo in Bulgaria. The sign fails to meet the best practice criteria (SMZP), as it only displays the species’ common name, scientific name and country of origin.

Without adequate and effective explanation, the display of multiple species from different geographic regions and/or habitats in the same enclosure may mislead and misinform visitors regarding the origin and natural environments of the animals involved, and may undermine the zoo’s educational potential. Those enclosures with unnatural species composition were noted as being of potentially limited educational value.

¹Species Holding: The presence of a species in a single enclosure.  For example, two separate enclosures both exhibiting tigers would be classed as two species holdings; while a single enclosure exhibiting five species of birds would be classed as five species holdings

See "Education" section of the Zoo Assessment Protocol

Born Free Foundation
Broadlands Business Campus, Langhurstwood Road
, Horsham, RH12 4QP, UK - Charity Reg. No. 1070906

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