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Dec 1, 2008

Realm of the Red Ape - Interpretation

Realm of the Red Ape - interpretation from Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society

Education in zoo exhibits: improving the design and use of interpretation in Realm of the Red Ape at Chester Zoo

Education in zoo exhibits: improving the design and use of interpretation in Realm of the Red Ape at Chester Zoo In 2005, WAZA stated that education was envisioned as playing a ‘central role for all zoos and aquariums’ and would form a ‘critical component of field conservation, building awareness and support’ (chapter 5, pg 35).

In the same work, the importance of evaluating those educational programmes was also highlighted (chapter 5, pg 40). One of the core ways of presenting educational messages in zoos is through interpretation at exhibits, but the effectiveness of this is under-researched.

In this study we sought to carefully plan, design and evaluate the interpretation for a large new third generation zoo exhibit, the Realm of the Red Ape, at Chester Zoo. Testing of prior visitor knowledge and the prototyping of interpretation allowed us to make informed choices over the final panels.

Quantitative analysis of interpretation post-installation, revealed areas that required remedial work to improve visitor usage. The simple and direct solutions implemented, significantly increased visitor stopping rates and the length of time spent interacting with interpretation. A pseudo-quantitative scale of visitor engagement was developed to further assess the relationship between visitors and interpretation.

From this the tentative conclusion that increased time spent at an interpretive element increased the level of visitor engagement (in a proportional manner) was made.

Developed by:  Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society

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