Determinants of visitors’ preference for wild animal spieces (A case study of Unilorin zoo, Ilorin, Kwara state, Nigeria)
The enormous potentials of tourism in recreation, community and economic development can be maximised through focusing on visitors’ preference in ensuring the sustainability of this increasingly important sector. This study examined the determinants of visitors’ preference for wild animal species in Kwara State, Nigeria. It determined the animal species preference in the state and highlighted the desired animal characteristics that endeared animals to zoo visitors.A structured questionnaire was used to elicit information from 120 randomly selected zoo visitors. Data obtained were subjected to descriptive statistical tools as well as the Pearson product moment correlation analysis. The result showed that visitors to the zoo were predominantly youths with a mean age of 25 years, male (64.2%) and educated (97.5%). The lion and the hyena were the animals that drew the attention of most of the visitors while major desired animal characteristics indicated by the visitors were the possession of friendly nature (36.7%) and aggressiveness (28.3%). Age, occupation and gender were significant (p<0.01)in determining preference for wild animals among the visitors. The study recommended the consideration of the significant factors and the desired animal characteristics in future animal stocking exercises of the zoo management.
Key words: Determinants, wildlife preference, University of Ilorin, Zoo