A trip to the zoo can boost your child’s science and conservation education more than books or classroom teaching alone, according to a research study conducted by the University of Warwick.

The study proves that their trip around the zoo provided a statistically significant growth in scientific learning about animals and habitats. Children, who visited a zoo, came away with a greater understanding of ideas such as conservation, habitat and extinction.

In the research, more than 3,000 school children aged between 7 and 14 were asked about their knowledge of animals, habitat and conservation and then tested again after their trip to ZSL London Zoo.

Among those who participated in the study, 53 percent had shown positive change in educational or conservation-related knowledge areas, personal concern for endangered species or new empowerment to participate in conservation efforts.

The study results also showed that when zoo visits were supplemented by an educational presentation from the zoo staff would increase the learning that almost doubled against self-guided visits.

“In recent years zoos have come under criticism for failing to demonstrate educational impact with certain lobbying groups arguing that it’s cruel to keep animals captive. But zoos have been changing for years now to offer more educational and conservation information; ‘behind the scenes’ access for visitors; learning about habitat conservation work – all of which culminate in a better engagement experience for the visitor, said Eric Jensen, Professor of Sociology at the University of Warwick who produced the report.

Amongst those who had not previously registered a concern about species extinction, 39 percent switched to registering such a concern directly after a zoo trip.

Some 51 percent of ten-year-old children, who were asked to draw their favourite animals and habitats before and after their trip, showed a real change in the drawings and the use of correct scientific terms such as 'canopy' and 'rainforest' and had a higher amount of animals placed in the correct habitat, e.g. a meerkat drawn in the desert.

The research clearly shows the valuable role that zoos can play in children’s science learning. So with another Bank Holiday fast approaching, why not swap the theme park for a good zoo? Your kids and their favourite animals may thank you in years to come!, said Jensen.