Battitude: A virtual zoo ‘bat experience’ produces positive change in attitudes to an unpopular species
Keywords:conservation, education, environmental education, fruit bat, perception
Despite the wide-ranging benefits of bats for people, bats are poorly understood and often feared. The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted these issues, but has also provided opportunities to develop new approaches to tackle misconceptions and transform attitudes. A ‘virtual bat experience’ (VBE) was designed, which lasted 5 minutes and incorporated videos and images of zoo-housed fruit bats, along with information highlighting the important roles of bats and the need to protect them. Using an online survey, attitudes of a sample of 316 people were evaluated both before and after watching the VBE using semantic differentials and Likert scale responses. There were significant positive changes in attitudes to bats on all measures as a result of viewing the VBE. Participants who had previously visited a zoo bat exhibit were more likely to have positive attitudes to bats, and the two experiences (online and in-person) appeared to have additive effects.
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