Bristol Zoo Gardens

Using rangers to deliver a zoo-based behaviour change campaign on sustainable palm oil

Bristol Zoo Gardens - 19th Sep, 2019

A fundamental objective of the modern zoo is to promote pro-environmental behaviours, with many zoos starting to implement behaviour change campaigns to encourage such behaviours. Although behaviour change campaigns are well established in many disciplines (including health and social marketing) they are still relatively new in zoos, and empirical research on the best methods to deliver these campaigns is limited. In 2018, Bristol Zoo Gardens launched the behaviour change campaign ‘Supporting Sustainable Palm Oil’. This campaign aimed to inform visitors of palm oil and encourage the purchasing of food products containing sustainable palm oil. The campaign was delivered in the ‘Tree Kangaroos of Papua New Guinea’ walk-through exhibit, where information on palm oil was conveyed to visitors through signs and self-led interactive activities. Nineteen rangers (zoo staff employed to engage with visitors) were responsible for delivering the campaign and the exhibit was manned by two rangers at a time. Rangers engaged with visitors by facilitating the activities and engaging in conversation. Using an experimental design, Bristol Zoo then conducted research aimed to assess whether rangers can promote pro-environmental behaviour by delivering a behaviour change campaign promoting sustainable palm oil use at Bristol Zoo Gardens. Questionnaires assessing awareness and knowledge of palm oil, and purchasing intentions of palm oil, were completed by 1032 visitors who exited the walk-through exhibit where the campaign was delivered. Visitors who engaged with a ranger were more aware of palm oil, had higher knowledge of palm oil (both perceived and actual), had greater intentions of purchasing products containing sustainable palm oil after their visit and enjoyed the campaign more, compared to visitors who did not engage with a ranger. These findings suggest that rangers can be beneficial in communicating complex conservation issues and increase the success of behaviour change campaigns delivered in zoos. Bristol Zoo entered this project into the BIAZA Awards Research category for 2019, and won a Gold award.

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