Research objectives

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Petting zoos

Investigation human-animal/animal-animal interactions in petting zoos

The study in different petting zoos should provide basic information about the human-animal interaction in different contexts. Direct contact with the animals in the petting zoo is an important experience for visitors. Only in this part of the zoo visitors are allowed to come close to the animals. In free flight aviaries and walk-through enclosures, touching and feeding the animals is often prohibited. In the petting zoo, however, the sensory perception of touch can be experienced. This leads to a positive reinforcement of the zoo experience. In addition they can be directly involved with the animals, which is otherwise rare. Due to urbanization and the livestock being held in large companies, there remains little opportunity otherwise to experience direct contact with animals.

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Giraffes

Behaviour and physiology of giraffes in zoos

The giraffe is the tallest animal on earth – but how does such a giant sleep? As all mammals also a giraffe has to sleep– even if only for short periods. During the life of a giraffe the sleeping behavior is changing and depending on age and stage of life the frequency and length of the sleeping periods vary. Achieving data about how sleeping behavior of giraffes develops during lifetime and how stressors may influence it is the objective of our research.

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Elephants

Behaviour and physiology of Asian and African elephants in zoos

Long-term study of activity budgets and habitat use as well as feeding and social behaviours in different elephant enclosures will supply basic behavioural data, which will be the basis for well-being enhancing changes in management. The effects of enrichment on behaviour and physiology of elephants will be investigated in detail, taking into account the individual 'personality'.

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Conservation

Conservation learning in zoos

Zoological gardens have been regarded as important institutions that have or are changing from mere exhibitors of wildlife to contributing directly to conservation. Among the variety of conservational efforts conservation education of the visiting public in zoos plays a major role. Our research wants to give a detailed view upon this education task.

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Environmental education

Effects of environmental education programms on attitude, knowledge and behavior

We investigate baseline differences and the effect of a singular outdoor educational program on environmental attitudes, knowledge and behavior between primary and secondary school students educated in a variety of countries an out-of-school learning situations.

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