We thought it was bad enough that zoos were propagandizing visitors like the child pictured below children. But then we learned about the Michael Mann connection.
Hudson the polar bear is a star attraction at Chicago’s Brookfield Zoo, where visitors come to watch him romp and swim in the new “Great Bear Wilderness” exhibit.
But the bear’s keepers, gravely concerned about climate change, have their eye on a different wilderness: the tangle of conflicting opinions about climate change among Americans. They see a captive audience in the roughly 180 million Americans who visit a zoo or aquarium each year.
A new national survey suggests that 82 percent of zoo visitors believe climate change is happening, compared with just 64 percent of the general public. But there’s a twist. The survey also finds that visitors who are most concerned about climate change are the least likely to believe that individual actions will make a dent in the problem…
“People don’t make their daily decisions based on scientific facts,” [Alejandro] Grajal, a senior vice president with the Chicago Zoological Society said. “There is an important emotional and psychological component to learning and decisionmaking, so we’re trying to understand how those processes work in the particular case of zoo visitors.”
That emotional connection is apparent to Pennsylvania State University climate scientist Michael Mann, who is advising Grajal’s network of zoos.
“I’ve learned much about animals that I never knew,” he said when asked about his work on the project. “I’ve had an opportunity to see polar bears up close in the Arctic — there is nothing like the experience of seeing a polar bear, eye to eye, in the wild.” [Emphasis added]
Below is the photo Climatewire ran, courtesy of the Chicago Zoological Society.