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Critique of a Critique: Do Zoos and Aquariums Promote Attitude Change in Visitors?

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Marino et al. (2010) recently published a critique of a three-year National Science Foundation—funded investigation of the impact of zoo and aquarium visits on the public’s understanding of animals and their attitudes toward conservation (Falk, Heimlich, & Bronnenkant, 2008; Falk, Reinhard, Vernon, Bronnenkant, Deans, & Heimlich, 2007; Heimlich, Bronnenkant, Witgert, & Falk, 2004). This critique of that critique will show that Marino et al. seriously misrepresent both the intent of the research and the methods used. The methods used by Falk and his colleagues were consistent with current, accepted research practice and their conclusions regarding impact were congruent with a growing body of scientific research (National Research Council, 2009; Ballantyne et al., 2007) showing that visits to zoos and aquariums almost always result in enhanced scientific understanding and strengthened beliefs in the value of nature conservation.

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