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Hillary Thompson

Illinois State University

Sponsor: Valeri Farmer-Dougan and Thomas Critchfield

"The Zoo as a Natural Learning Laboratory: Developing a Behavior Research and Training Unit with ISU and Miller Park Zoo."

This project uses a zoo as an alternative to traditional animal laboratories. Zoo animals need enrichment and training, and psychology students need opportunities to develop training and observation skills traditionally obtained in animal laboratories. The zoo thus provides an ethical, cost-efficient alternative. It reduces the number of laboratory animals used for training, and provides stimulation to the zoo animals. Public attitudes may also be impacted: Public education components are included on animal behavior, appropriate use of research animals, and animal welfare. A program evaluation assesses the impact on student training, along with changes in knowledge of and attitudes toward animal welfare.