Zoos are unique because they allow people to see exotic animals from all over the world firsthand. For children and adults alike, this can be a fun and enriching experience. Creating a zoo enjoyable for both human visitors and animal residents takes a good deal of in-depth planning, though. If you’re asking the question, “what makes for a good zoo design?” read on to find out.
Rather than approaching the design of animal exhibits as simple enclosures, zoos need to create conditions that closely mimic those animals’ natural habitats. This allows the animals to thrive and carry out their instinctual behaviors in a similar manner to how they would in the wild. Zoos must consider everything from the foods that animals eat, the types of vegetation they live with, the terrain, temperatures, and amount of shade that they need. Designers can even recreate the ways that an animal obtains its food through the exhibit. For example, the sloth bear exhibit in the Smithsonian National Zoological Park includes termite hills for the bears to eat from.
Good zoo designs communicate positive messages to the visitors. Zoo owners should consider what type of educational signs they want to put in their zoos. Oftentimes, environmental awareness is at the forefront of their messages. It falls in line with the knowledge of animals that zoos represent and the appreciation for nature they serve to display. To this end, a zoo design could include signs on exhibits that share information on the importance of preserving natural ecosystems. A zoo could also incorporate sustainability measures to make tangible efforts toward greener operations. To illustrate, it can utilize plastic lumber for animal enclosures because this material is made from recycled plastic waste that would otherwise find its way into landfills.
Openness To Innovation
An openness to continual innovation also makes for a good zoo design. Technology is always improving. New advancements and devices can serve to make exhibits more adaptable to the animals they contain and more interesting for visitors. Already, computers help to design things like netting and the shapes of glass aquatic tanks. These can improve the viewing experience and move exhibits closer to ideal natural habitats. In addition, innovation can allow zoos to become more eco-friendly. Green roofs on buildings, for instance, utilize plants to better insulate the exhibits held within them without using up energy for artificial heating and cooling. They also block outside sounds that could disturb animals.