Conservation discourse in zoos

Author: Alessandra Bizerra

The conservation education research is a field dedicated to study ethical reflections and human attitudes directed towards respect to nature, especially the establishment of conservation actions based on educational interactions. Zoos in general are inserted into this perspective, once they are assumed as institutions devoted to wildlife conservation. However, conservation discourse presented by these cultural spaces is not always present in their exhibitions. Thus, in this investigation, we aimed to understand how conservation is addressed in a spanish Zoo, considering three different views: Environmental Movements; Conservation Philosophy; and Environmental Ethic. Using Case Study method, we developed a documental analysis (institutional documents accessible website and historical book), content analysis of information signs texts and interviews with conservation researchers. The analyses are being carried out based on the theoretical framework of Didactic/museographic Transposition, searching for establishment of a reference knowledge. This reference knowledge is enabling to create analytical categories which guide the categorization of Zoo’s speech on conservation education. Preliminary results show that conservation discourse ranges from anthropocentric to not anthropocentric aspects. Besides, we perceived that man’s position regarding nature is predominantly focused on developmental aspects and technical and scientific elements, following conceptual line of major global events sponsored by international agencies.