ZOO EXHIBIT DESIGN: A POST-OCCUPANCY EVALUATION AND COMPARISON OF ANIMAL ENCLOSURES.
AuthorSHETTEL-NEUBER, MARY JOYCE.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThe present study, in contrast with previous work that has isolated one or two important factors influencing the status of the zoo, considered the three important zoo reference groups--animals, visitors, and staff members--and their interrelationships within the zoo environment. Two approaches were used to investigate the system of interactions within the zoo. First, an in-depth examination of a new set of naturalistic exhibits was performed. Second, a comparison of two of these naturalistic exhibits with two older, sterile exhibits which housed the same species at the same zoo was made. Multiple methods were used in the present study and included behavior mapping of visitors, staff, and animals, timing of visitor stays at exhibits, tracking of visitors through the exhibits, a visitor questionnaire, and interviews with staff members. One major finding was the lack of correspondence among the major groups as to the acceptability of exhibits. For example, one exhibit which was considered beneficial to the enclosed animals and was well utilized and positively evaluated by visitors presented staff members with great difficulties in animal containment and exhibit maintenance. Comparisons of naturalistic enclosures and sterile cement enclosures housing the same species revealed no consistent, clear-cut differences in animal and visitor behavior, however, attitudinal differences were found for staff members and visitors. Visitors and staff members preferred the naturalistic exhibits and perceived them as more beneficial to animals and visitors. These findings were discussed in terms of theoretical and applied issues relevant to zoo design and management and to research in zoos.