March 25, 2023


Fascinating Talks of the Planet

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A humanly Home For Wild Creatures


The best zoos today are becoming places that care for animals with a focus on their long-term wellness through research, breeding and field conservation programmes. One of the main trends emerging in zoo exhibit design and explored in this article is the accommodation and
presentation of research, animal care and breeding programmes being conducted onsite at the institution. This article highlights three examples where staff research and animal care activities have been brought out from behind-the-scenes to become popular and informative venues for the visiting public to observe, interact and gain an understanding of the science and professional animal care that is part of the mission of modern zoos.

Zoos began as menageries where animals were viewed in “pits” or “grottos” and they have been influenced by game farms where deer and other animals were raised and sold. Early game farm operations consisted of herds gathered in fenced enclosures, which sometimes grew to become more like zoos than farms. It is still common for zoos to display herd animals in simple fenced enclosures, and zoos still have elements that hark back to the menagerie or grotto era. Engaging the visiting public with animal and habitat exhibits is most successful when these close encounters foster an understanding of, interest in and commitment to the conservation of species and wild places.

The newest, leading-edge exhibits incorporate complex programmatic elements that are not only beautiful and popular with visitors, but also address and present the zoo staff’s active research and animal care. Modern exhibits immerse visitors in authentic-looking natural environments that minimise the perception of barriers separating animals from the public (and each other) and visitors from staff. The following recent projects provide examples highlighting these trends in zoo exhibits that we are experiencing.