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5.1. ZooLex Web

The collection of information on zoo exhibits and its preparation for ZooLex is very time consuming. A concept for the procedures is therefore critical. A form to be filled in by zoos will help to get more consistent information, as the AZA award applications show. Ideally, zoos will require their planners to provide information suitable for publication in ZooLex. Later, zoos can easily use the same information for other purposes, such as promotion or contests, for example for exhibit award applications. The form will also help with processing the exhibit presentations and the relevant database.

Text of up to 1,500 words and up to 25 pictures for one exhibit presentation seem to be appropriate information for the intended purpose. More details may be confusing or boring for the general audience.

Additional databases, e.g. on plant use, maintenance, publications etc., will be valuable tools for zoo professionals. A database in ZooLex for retrieving husbandry manuals that are already available may also help to improve minimum standards for animal enclosures.

As mentioned before, the quality of information on an exhibit depends on the institution's interest in publishing this information. There are zoos, which are willing to pay for having their exhibits advertised. There are also those who do not need this kind of promotion because they are already well-known. Having their exhibits in ZooLex might be more important to other members of zoo organizations than to themselves.

Therefore, support from zoo organizations is critical to the success of ZooLex as a scientific database on zoo design.

The European Communication Council (EEC) published as study (http://www.mgmuc.de) on the effects of the internet on the working place. They state that most successful providers first offer their services for free to get as many clients as possible. Then the service pays off by advertisements and additional service. Thus, the concept for the ZooLex website is drafted in several stages:

An online form for automatic processing of information on animal exhibits should facilitate expanding the site. Zoos will be asked to pay for inclusion of their exhibit presentation in ZooLex or compensate by advertising for ZooLex. Information on existing animal exhibits is the core of the site and should be free for all users.

Increasing popularity of the site should attract sponsorship for its maintenance. Firms advertising in the section on specialized suppliers will be asked to pay a yearly fee for their presence in ZooLex.

Next, a discussion forum is to be developed and tested. Here, zoo professionals may discuss the follow-up of new exhibits. Obviously, there is some risk of destructive people misusing the assessments or the forum for harassment.  Membership will be introduced to limit this risk. This will ensure that information can be restricted to a certain audience by the submitter or the content manager. Otherwise, the discussion forum should be open to everybody. Everybody interested in the development of planning theory and methodology should be able to contribute by participating in the discussions.

As soon as about 50 animal exhibit presentations are published on the internet, a call for the first contest will be made. Contests hopefully will attract users to visit more often and thus attract sponsors.

Further funding should enable investments in the expansion of the database relevant to zoo design. The provision of useful information in a database requires the introduction of membership fees. These fees should allow up-dating and maintaining the database.

5.2. ZooLex File

ZooLex File is a loose-leaf-collection for everybody with an interest in zoos and similar institutions. Complementary to the website the main part will be a collection of pages describing animal exhibits in the world. Color pictures of animals and attractive exhibit features as well as a map with the location of the zoo should attract the same audience that buys zoo books and watches TV programs on zoos. Furthermore, it should serve as a reference book for zoo professionals. Customers can collect the pages as they do with gardening tips, cooking recipes, and so on. The ordering system of the file allows one to add, find and take out certain pages easily.

ZooLex File should be launched when about 100 exhibits are ready for publication. The pages should correspond with the website and be available by subscription.

5.3. ZooLex News

A journal should complement the website, reaching professionals who do not use the internet. The journal informs about additions to the website and news on animal exhibitry. The target audience are members of ZooLex. The journal may include the most recent pages of the loose-leaf-collection.

Since ZooLex News should reach zoo professionals worldwide, it is an excellent public relations opportunity. Each issue may be sponsored by another supplier. This firm may include a page exclusively for their advertising. These pages can be collected separately in a reference file.

5.4. Continuing Vocational Training

Training manuals should be developed with input from professional and scientific experts including findings generated from the operation of the website. Expenditures should be covered by sale revenues.

The organization of vocational training courses will be facilitated by using the ZooLex website and journal.

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