Germans are zoo enthusiasts: a clear majority of them are in favour of zoological institutions, regard their efforts to protect species as very important and learn to appreciate animals in them. This is the result of the latest and most comprehensive study on the attitude of Germans towards zoos carried out by the opinion research institute Forsa. “These survey results fill us with pride”, says the President of the Verband der Zoologischen Gärten (Association of Zoological Gardens), Prof. Dr. Jörg Junhold, and adds: “In addition to the high level of acceptance, they show that our zoos succeed in acting as a bridge between urban living environments and the concerns of nature and species conservation by conveying these important issues”.
The central question of the representative study commissioned by the association was the degree of acceptance. When asked whether they were in favour of zoos in Germany, an overwhelming 82 per cent answered “yes”; only 12 per cent of Germans were against zoos, the remaining respondents did not give any details. It is pleasing for zoos that the approval rating has settled at this high level; compared to the first edition of the survey in 2017, it has even risen by one percentage point.
Modern zoological gardens are committed to protecting dwindling biodiversity by caring for and preserving endangered species in zoos and in their natural habitat. This social task is particularly highly valued by the German population. According to the survey, 65 percent of those surveyed say that these efforts are “very important”; for another 28 percent they are “important”. The situation is similar with the commitment of the zoos outside their gates: 55 percent of Germans consider it “very important” that zoos are actively working for the animals directly in the threatened habitats, for another 36 percent it is still “important”. VdZ President Jörg Junhold, who as Director also runs Leipzig Zoo, says: “These are very pleasing values that are in line with our intentions and self-image: As zoos, we are the species conservation centers of today.”
The Forsa study also shows that visiting a zoo in the 21st century has a very positive effect on visitors. According to their own statements, more than two thirds learned something about animals during their last visit (11 percent “very much”; 58 percent “much”). In addition, the majority also develops an emotional connection: 32 percent of the respondents say that their appreciation of animals has increased (“completely”) as a result of their zoo visit; a further 48 percent “rather” agree with this statement. 71 percent (20 percent “completely”, 51 percent “rather”) say that they felt connected to nature during their zoo visit.
“We are very happy that the work of our modern zoos now has such a positive resonance among the public,” says Jörg Junhold. “This is both an honour and an incentive for us – we will not slacken in our efforts.”
Notes: The Forsa survey was conducted using an online tool in November 2019. In Germany, 1,508 people older than 14 years of age were interviewed nationwide according to a systematic random principle. In parallel, the Verband der Zoologischen Gärten (Association of Zoological Gardens) had the same survey carried out in Austria and German-speaking Switzerland.
Sebastian Scholze, Head of Communications ([email protected]; +49 175-2731955)
About the VdZ
The Verband der Zoologischen Gärten (VdZ) e.V. (Association of Zoological Gardens), based in Berlin, is the leading association of scientifically managed zoological gardens with a focus on the German-speaking regions. Founded in 1887, the VdZ is the oldest zoo association in the world and played a key role in the founding of the World Association of Zoos (WAZA). The VdZ currently has 71 member zoos in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Spain.