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Dec 14, 2007

The Secret World of the Okapi

The Secret World of the Okapi from Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society 
Imersing the public in the world of the okapi 

This project was to produce interpretation for ‘The Secret World of the Okapi’ exhibit at Chester Zoo. Cognitively the exhibit aimed to deliver three key messages:
1. The Okapi (Okapia johnstoni) was one of the last large mammals to be discovered.
2. The Okapi is a forest dwelling relative of the giraffe.
3. Chester Zoo is involved in ex-situ and in-situ conservation of the Okapi.

Affectively the exhibit aimed to instil excitement into visitors, using the Okapi as living proof that the age of animal discovery is still with us.

The linear nature of the exhibit allowed the interpretation to be constructed as a narrative, with four pieces of interpretation progressively telling the story of the Okapi’s discovery. Theming and authentic artefacts aimed to frame the story as a romantic adventure narrative set in Colonial Africa. Two interactives were used to highlight the commonalities the Okapi shares with the Giraffe and to encourage scaffolding conversations between parent and child. Unobtrusive observation of visitor behaviour revealed visitors spent an average 14% of total dwell time at interpretation in Okapi.

The two interactives had the 3rd and 4th highest attracting powers of any interpretative element in the Zoo. Unobtrusive observation of visitor conversation indicated that 36% of visitors used the interpretation to identify the Okapi. 19% identified the Okapi as a relative of the giraffe and 4% discussed the main message of the Okapi’s discovery. 13% demonstrated behaviour indicating an affiliative response to the Okapi. 


Developed by:  Chester Zoo - North of England Zoological Society

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