The education value of visitor feeding experiences

Animal feeding experiences, where zoo visitors have the opportunity to feed and interact with animals, are becoming increasingly popular in zoological institutions. These are often considered to have an educational benefit and to increase visitors’ interest in conservation. We are currently investigating the educational benefits of visitor feeding experiences in WWCT zoos in order to understand what people learn from such an experience, and how this might affect their future conservation-related behaviour. This will enable us to provide evidence-based recommendations to enable feeding experiences to be, not only enjoyable, but also of benefit to our conservation advocacy goals. Alongside this research, we are also investigating the effect of visitor experiences on animal behaviour and welfare.

Project team:

Joanna Newbolt, Paignton Zoo
Susan Warren, Paignton Zoo
Kathy Baker, Newquay Zoo


Close, A. and Newbolt, J. 2017. The educational value of visitor feeding experiences at Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts. 19th Annual BIAZA Research Conference, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, July 2017.