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2.2. The Present Access to Information on Zoo Design

Individual zoos are often owned by private societies or depend on such organizations for funding. Many of these societies have a regular publication for members of the society, informing on plans and construction of the zoo. The zoos of a region collaborate in regional organizations, such as the VDZ (Verband Deutscher Zoodirektoren), ADZG (Association of Danish Zoological Gardens), CAZG (Chinese Association of Zoological Gardens) and Northern American regional organizations. The regional organizations are gathered in continental organizations, such as the AZA (American Zoo Association), LAAZGA (Latin American Association of Zoological Gardens and Aquariums), EAZA (European Association of  Zoos and Aquaria) and ARAZPA (Australasian Regional Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria). Worldwide, zoos and zoo organizations are organized in the WZO (World Zoo Organization) since its foundation in 1946. Most of these organizations hold regular conferences and publish conference minutes, scientific proceedings and newsletters.

The AZA is probably the best organized and most active of all zoo organizations. It has much impact on trends and standards worldwide. The  AZA conferences provide the opportunity for commercial members to exhibit their products and services to other AZA members. Sometimes, there are special workshops on design topics. The association's website provides members with a resource center. This is an expanding database on zoo relevant documents, including design related sections. The AZA also fosters the SSP (Species Survival Plan) program. By the SSPs' husbandry manuals the AZA intends to set standards in husbandry practices for animal species included in the program. The manuals ideally also indicate design requirements for these species.

Furthermore, the AZA awards excellent exhibits at their annual conference. The AZA exhibit award was initiated in 1974 to recognize accomplishments in the area of animal display and exhibit design. Recently, an additional award (The Munson Aquatic Exhibitry Award) was introduced at the AZA conference for exhibits containing piscine species.

Another design award was introduced by UFAW (Universities Federation for Animal Welfare) in 1986. Each year, the best new or improved zoo animal accommodation and the best innovation (e.g. piece of equipment or innovative husbandry technique) in Great Britain are awarded by the UFAW.

The Zoo-AG is an ambitious project run by biology students in Germany with an interest in zoological gardens. They hold regular excursions to zoos and publish reports about these trips on their website.

The IZE (International Association of Zoo Educators) and the  recently formed International Association of Zoo Keepers deal with interpretation and husbandry from their perspective as zoo employees with specific tasks. In fact, these organizations can give important input to zoo design assessments.

The AZFA (Aquarium and Zoo Facility Association) was founded to serve people responsible for the maintenance of animal exhibits. AZFA is developing a notebook as a reference for design and construction of animal enclosures and support facilities.

The AZH (Association of  Zoological Horticulture) was formed in 1980 to facilitate information on horticultural ideas and practices relating to the zoo experience. Through member surveys, seed exchange, regular newsletters and annual conferences, members keep up to date on horticulture practices in zoos. The AZH actually is the most zoo design oriented organization. Data on use of plants in existing exhibits are gradually collected and standardized to improve accessibility to this highly specific information. Horticulture is just one aspect of zoo design but probably the most important. However, the AZH is a forum for horticultural, not general, exhibit design issues.

Other reference sources on zoo design are the International Zoo Yearbook, the journals Zoo Biology, Curator, Architecture, Landscape Architecture, the journal Environmental Psychology, the series Environment and Behavior, Animals and Architecture, and publications by the Smithsonian Institution; but none of them is exclusively dedicated to zoo design. Just a few books deal with zoo design. Assessments and evaluations are spread across various journals and series and last but not least academic theses.

Perhaps, because the search for information on zoo design issues is difficult,  or because the topic is good for chatter, much information on zoo design is exchanged on personal visits and in personal communication. 

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Last modification: 2000/2/27
Copyright © 2000 Monika Ebenhöh