Abstract # 77:

Scheduled for Sunday, September 18, 2011 07:00 PM-09:00 PM: Session 14 (Salon G (Sixth Floor)) Poster Presentation


J. M. Stevens1, A. Sannen2 and H. Vervaecke2
1Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, K. Astridplein 26, Antwerp B-2018, Belgium, 2Odisee University College, Agro-& Biotechnology, Animal Welfare and Behaviour
     In a recent study, Ross et al. [2008] showed that visitors in two American zoos judged chimpanzees less often as an endangered species compared to gorillas and orang-utans. Visitors based their view on the fact that chimpanzees were often portrayed in commercials and movies. We repeated this study in Antwerp Zoo in Belgium. We presented visitors with the same pictures as Ross et al. [2008] and asked which apes they believed to be endangered. In the cases of incorrect answers, they were asked to explain their choice. Of the 450 visitors interviewed (all aged 18 years or older), 96 and 94% correctly judged gorillas and orang-utans respectively as endangered. Only 72% claimed that chimpanzees were endangered, which is significantly less than for gorillas or orang-utans. Only one respondent believed chimpanzees not to be endangered because ‘they feature more in movies’. In comparison to the US, chimpanzees have not often been featured in Belgian commercials or advertisements in the past decade. However, Belgian respondents did ‘blame’ the media for not being informative enough about chimpanzees. This study suggests that the media may play a role in conservation awareness and that the use of apes in commercials and movies may cause erroneous public views. It would be interesting to study cultural differences in public perception in relation to the portrayal of apes in the media in other countries.