Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. Marine Biology

First Advisor

Nick Funicelli

Second Advisor

Patrick Hardigan


Throughout history zoos and aquariums have satisfied a number of different, albeit to some, conflicting roles (Ballantyne, Packer, Hughes, & Dierking, 2007). In recent years, zoos and aquariums have shifted their focus on taking a proactive role in wildlife conservation and promoting conservation learning among their visitors. The present capstone addresses the justifications that marine conservationists see in marine zoological parks and how they believe parks can become more relevant and valuable in the future. A 65 question survey (Appendix I) was distributed to marine science professionals online through personal contact between June and September 2017 questioning participant’s personal opinions about justifications for having animal-based attractions, specifics about parks and demographics. Participants were also invite to submit any comments about the marine zoological parks at the conclusion of the survey. Participants contacted online were either students (UF undergraduate class, PSU scientific divers and PSU marine science society members), marine zoological park professionals, or conservation professionals. A total of 102 completed surveys were considered for the study. Descriptive statistics were run as well as chi square test to see significant differences between gender and education across survey questions. Results show that marine conservationists want parks to focus less on entertainment and theatrics and more on relevant education concepts such as conservation (95%) and biology, natural history and laws (96%). Updated delivery methods of educational concepts can make a more meaningful impression to a larger audience.