Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Kate McClellan

Committee Member

David M. Hoffman

Committee Member

Milena A. Melo Tijerina

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Applied Anthropology

Degree Name

Master of Arts


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Anthropology and Middle Eastern Cultures


Accredited US zoos aim to support wildlife conservation and educate and influence the public and create a conservation-minded community by curating immersive multispecies experiences. In this case study, I examine how zoos may practice conservation through the frameworks of biopolitics, spectacle, affect, and mainstream conservation paradigms. To conduct this research, I interviewed 10 zoo staff from the animal, education, development, and retail departments of a Midwestern zoo. Their rhetoric about zoos and how they practice conservation suggests that zoo staff aim to generate affective responses from guests by displaying animals in managed care. These affective responses that staff hope to generate have the potential to elicit behavioral changes in the public, such as making responsible consumer choices and donating to the zoo or to other conservation organizations. I conclude that these practices are examples of mainstream (neoliberalized) modes of conservation, which is conservation that is compatible with larger capitalist structures.