Shona Irvine

Shona’s project aims to examine the effect of zoo visits on public attitudes towards conservation.

Photo Credit: Shona Irvine


After doing a one year outdoor education course at college I decided I would rather teach and learn about the outdoor environment itself rather than specific adventure sports within it. I then took a year to volunteer in various projects including organic gardening, building an eco-house and helping at a plant nursery. Four years later, I am now in my final year of studying Ecological & Environmental Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. Last summer I had a 2 month internship with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland at the Highland Wildlife Park and had great fun. It sparked my enthusiasm to get people thinking about the amazing creatures we share Earth with.

Project Title

An investigation into the change in public attitude towards and knowledge of conservation brought about by a visit to an RZSS Zoo

Project description

I’m really looking forward to starting my study and I hope to get back in touch with a researcher from Chester zoo who has done similar work on a global scale. In my dissertation project I aim to understand the how the public view conservation by means of a visitor survey. Those who wish to take part will be asked questions at the beginning and end of their visit to assess any change which has occurred. Through links with the RZSS I have responses from the Highland Wildlife Park in Kincraig. I also wish to conduct a similar survey at the Edinburgh Zoo which is managed by the same organisation but is in an urban setting and attracts a broader range of visitors. Additionally I will look into schemes run by RZSS such as animal adoptions whereby the public can donate towards the conservation of a certain species.


Aidan Keane (University of Edinburgh, School of GeoSciences)


BSc Ecological and Environmental Sciences