Examining a general audience’s perception of cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus in education programming: A pilot study
Keywords:Acinonyx jubatus, animal ambassadors, cheetahs, education, human-animal interactions, programme animals
The use of cheetahs Acinonyx jubatus as animal ambassadors has increased in popularity within the United States. These programmes help the zoo deliver unique experiences to guests while delivering conservation messaging. This study examined a general audience’s perception of these ambassador-style programmes involving cheetahs. Through use of an online survey, study participants were asked to view images and videos of cheetah programmes. Responses were analysed using thematic coding as well as statistical analysis to observe trends in participant responses. Findings from this study show a preference for programmes with interpretation and an animal that can demonstrate ‘wildness’. There is an observed difference in perceptions between those who frequently visit a zoo compared to those who do not. Other participant factors appear to be less influential than the frequency of annual zoo visits.
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