Exhibit Critique Exercise

The ZooLex Zoo Design Organization ( www.ZooLex.org  (Links to an external site.) ) was established to help improve holding conditions for wild animals in captivity by: 1) publishing and disseminating information related to zoo design, 2) promoting appropriate holding conditions for wild animals in captivity, 3) providing balanced technical information and advice about zoo design, and 4) supporting research and vocational training related to zoo design. Many exhibit design staff refer to the ZooLex website and resources as they begin to design their own exhibit spaces, as represented institutions have generally included a variety of helpful and insightful information for others. As we will discover and discuss throughout this course, it truly “takes a village” to design world-class exhibits; as you’ll see here, this collaboration can (and often does) extend even beyond the individual institution to include outside sources of help. 

Each week, I will assign a specific exhibit from the ZooLex website. Each week, you will be expected to critique some specific aspect of the exhibit, which will directly reflect course materials from that week. 

This week, you will critique the Gorilla Forest exhibit at the Louisville Zoo ( https://www.zoolex.org/gallery/show/658/  (Links to an external site.) ). Be sure to review the site plan, photos, management, interpretation, habitat space, and specific features dedicated to animals, keeper, and visitors.

Identify and discuss the following elements : 

  • Begin with a brief overview of the exhibit. Be sure to include exhibit type (natural, immersive, functional, some hybrid of these?), and exhibit location (taxonomic, geographic, bioclimatic). 
  • How did the Louisville Zoo implement various aspects of training and enrichment into this exhibit space, while also keeping natural history and guest experience foremost in mind? 
  • Photos 17-20 showcase training, enrichment, natural history, and guest experience elements in Gorilla Forest. Identify, describe, and discuss these elements in terms of exhibit design and animal welfare impacts. 
  • How might you have improved upon this design? 

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