Zoo Vets – the inside story
The vet team at Chester Zoo comprises: vets, vet nurses, an endocrinologist and technicians, a nutritionist and a quarantine manager. They aim to provide the highest standards of health and welfare for our zoo animals. The focus of their work is preventative health care and we felt that this was an important message to convey to our zoo visitors since the portrayal of zoo vets on television is often dramatic and reactive rather than proactive.
Zoo Vets – The Inside Story is a bespoke, multi media exhibit and covers aspects of preventative health care: animal IDs, contraception, monitoring hormone levels, making regular parasite checks and quarantine arrangements and vaccinations for animal imports and exports.
The exhibit was conceived by an in-house team of education and veterinary staff and opened at Easter 2010. It will run until the end of 2011 and by the beginning of June 2011, just under 70,000 visitors had passed through.
There are a number of inter-active elements to support the more traditional interpretation panels; for example, a thermal imaging camera and display screen where visitors can see there own ‘hot spots’, a group of chimpanzee soft toys fitted with microchips and a reader with a quiz to identify animals by their ID numbers, a short film showing the work of our vet team.
We conducted an evaluation of the exhibit with our visitors and found that visitors to the exhibit perceive the work of zoo vets significantly differently to visitors to the zoo who have not visited the exhibit, particularly with regard to the proactive elements of vet work, which the exhibit focussed on.
COMMENDATION received in BIAZA Awards 2011 for Best education project: public and general visitor