Postprint of: Smith, l, Weiler, B, Smith, A & van Dijk, P 2012, 'Applying visitor preference criteria to choose pro-wildlife behaviors to ask of zoo visitors', Curator: The Museum Journal, vol. 55, no.4, pp. 453-466.
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Many zoos now emphasize that their role in conservation includes influencing the behavior of their visitors for the benefit of wild animals. However, there is limited evidence of behavioral change to support this emphasis; one reason may be that requested behaviors are not viewed favorably by zoo visitors. The purpose of the present study was to involve zoo staff in a process of identifying and prioritizing pro-wildlife behaviors using a set of criteria that noted what zoo visitors prefer. This was achieved by replicating Smith’s (2009a) study but including visitor-preferred attributes identified in Smith, Curtis, and van Dijk (2010). Across several zoos in Australia, 152 staff members participated in seven Nominal Group Technique workshops. Initially over 500 behaviors were identified and prioritized, first by filtering behavior lists, then by participants voting on behaviors. When voting, participants tended to choose behaviors promoting wildlife-friendly consumerism and donations.