Join our zoo community

Measuring Zoo Area

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Coelacanth18, 29 Oct 2016.

  1. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    847
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    So many zoos have their areas publicized and widely cited, and this information can be easily found by doing simple Internet searches: for example, Brookfield Zoo is 216 acres, San Diego Zoo is 100 acres, Reid Park Zoo is 24 acres, and so on. However, it was brought to my attention on another thread by jayjds2 that the San Antonio Zoo, despite being alternately listed as 35 and 56 or 57 acres, is in fact far smaller than that. I've been using one of those online programs that maps area on Google Earth to test the sizes of zoos and compare them to their posted acreage, and I'm starting to wonder where the numbers are coming from, as some are spot-on with my calculations and others are way off. What does total area include? Can a zoo count its parking lot in the total area? What about area that is set aside for natural habitat? Are the numbers we see made using unique criteria that every zoo decides for themselves?
     
  2. Moebelle

    Moebelle Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    15 Jun 2011
    Posts:
    2,410
    Location:
    Cincinnati, Ohio
    I measured Cincy with Google Earth. I included the four parking lots and went around the entire Park fenceline and my acreage result was almost what the zoo claims - 64 acres.
     
  3. Hix

    Hix Wildlife Enthusiast and Lover of Islands Premium Member

    Joined:
    20 Oct 2008
    Posts:
    5,727
    Location:
    Christmas Island
    I think you'll find, in most cases, they'll be listing the land they own which will include carparks, off-display areas, undeveloped areas and areas set aside for natural vegetation.
     
  4. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    847
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    That's what I figured was the case, and while that may be the actual area that the zoo possesses, in some aspects it can be misleading. The parking lot is used for parking, and areas set aside for nature probably won't be developed as it would defeat their purpose. So the functional area is probably less for most zoos than what they claim.

    Even if they are counting parking and natural areas, some of the numbers I'm still skeptical of. Miami claims to have 324 acres developed... perhaps I can't tell developed land from undeveloped land, but looking at the area covered by the exhibits and animal areas, this seems like a gross overestimate, which makes me wonder where that additional area is coming from.
     
  5. jayjds2

    jayjds2 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    10 Nov 2015
    Posts:
    2,024
    Location:
    Virginia, USA
    Very good question. It seems some zoo's are straightforward in their acreage while others don't really give a clear idea. For example (if this info is indeed correct) the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is accurate in its claim that it owns 1800 acres. However, it also correctly says that only 600 are developed, and only half of that is on display.

    Of course, some zoos are just flat out wrong in their acreage info. Fort Worth Zoo once claimed its seven elephants had access to five acres, when in reality it's about 1.5. I'm glad that that is changing soon.
     
  6. Coelacanth18

    Coelacanth18 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Feb 2015
    Posts:
    847
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    @jayjds2 : I agree that it seems to vary. Lincoln Park Zoo's acreage (35) is right on point with what I measured, which makes sense because it doesn't have a parking lot or any undeveloped land. Brookfield, on the other hand, says 216; most of that is a huge wooded area and three huge parking lots. The public/non-public animal spaces amount to only around 85 acres. So, from a functional standpoint, Brookfield is only slightly twice the size of LPZ, rather than 6 times larger as the totals alone would suggest.

    It would be interesting to do an extensive comparison of zoos listed area totals and what we measure as their functional space.