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Ranking the stars; what are the popular zoo animals?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by lintworm, 6 Apr 2020.

  1. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

    27 Oct 2008
    There have been a few scientific studies that have tried to identify which animals are more popular with the average zoo visitor. These studies have however often been severely limited in their scope, as they generally focused on only one zoo. Their results can thus often not be applied to other zoos. A study from Durrell Zoo found that people appreciate endangered more than non-endangered. This is probably closely linked to the uncommonly strong conservation message of the respective zoo. Whereas such case study approaches are valuable, an expert based approach could add a different perspective and that is where you come in.

    I would be very interested to see how zoochatters quantitatively rank zoo animal species based on their popularity. Such an approach would off-course not be limited to a single collection and would span a large range of nationalities (though still skewed towards native English speakers). So is likely applicable to a wider range of zoos.

    I am interested in this, as I am planning to do an analysis of whether we can predict zoo attendance by a few simple factors (first for Europe, but there is scope to extend). This would include things like number of species (potentially separated between classes), size, GDP, population of surrounding area, etc. A key factor would probably be the presence in a zoo of popular animals.There is currently one study that has done a comparable analysis:
    A system wide approach to managing zoo collections for visitor attendance and in situ conservation

    They used animal size as a proxy, which is something found in a study in Chester which identified larger animals are generally more popular. This relationship is probably broadly valid , but ignores animals like Meerkats and Lemurs. I therefore think that we can get a more nuanced view when there are enough people contributing with the proposed ranking system.

    I am aware that there are previous threads which have discussed this topic, but none has tried to quantify it as far as I am aware.

    The rules:
    - You can name any species or species group (e.g. small monkeys) that you think is applicable, NOT individual animals.
    - Please give each species (group) you think is important a weighing between 0-50. The maximum weighting you give does not need to be 50. Consider the weightings carefully! The higher the weighting the more important you think the species is to the average zoo visitor.
    - Species groups do not necessarily have to be taxonomically correct.
    - There is no limit to the number of species (groups) you can name.
    - Any species group you do not write down is considered to be unimportant and gets a score of 0.
    - These weigthings should be based on your personal experience for average zoo visitors, not what you hope to be true or your personal preference.
    - Do not limit the choices to your local zoo(s), the inclusion of species like Koala, Giant Panda or Manta Rays, which are rare in zoos, but generally considered popular, is crucial to this exercise.
    - You can post your list here OR send me a PM, if you would like to keep it private.
    - There is no adapting the scores after you have posted, though I might allow adding species (groups) if you obviously forgot something.
    - Additionally please list the number of zoos you have visited and whether you work(ed) in a zoo, which are indicators I will use as a measure of experience.

    So how does it look? You simply post a list, with for each species (group), a score, like this:

    Hypothetical example list
    Aardvark 20 points
    Tarsier (any species) 10 points
    Blue Whale 50 points
    Great Spotted Woodpecker 5 points
    Poisonous fish 2 points

    Personal info
    148 zoos visited
    Not worked in a zoo

    Remember that the weighting should apply to what you think an average zoo visitor would like to see, not your personal preference.

    I am curious about your choices. Once enough people have responded, I will create a consensus list, corrected for experience. This list will be used in the analyses and I will keep you updated on the progress off-course.
    Mo Hassan, Jogy, TZDugong and 5 others like this.
  2. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

    18 Jun 2011
    London, UK
    Should a blue whale be included in a list of the most popular zoo animals?
  3. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

    27 Oct 2008
    This is a purely hypothetical list with unlikely candidates not to influence people outright. I would only include animals that are kept in captivity currently, otherwise they won't influence the final results anyway.
    FunkyGibbon and amur leopard like this.
  4. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

    23 Feb 2019
    I have never worked in a zoo and have visited 38 collections in total. Additionally, if it helps, all the zoos I have visited so far have been in the company of my parents and sister, who are not zoo nerds.

    I put the list in a spoiler because it is quite long.

    Long-beaked echidnas: 15
    Short-beaked echidnas: 12
    Platypuses: 20
    Opossums: 6
    Quolls and other dasyurids (excluding Tasmanian devil): 10
    Tasmanian devil: 15
    Lesser bilby: 7
    Bandicoots: 6
    Cuscuses: 11
    Possums: 6
    Wombats: 14
    Koalas: 38
    Kangaroos: 20
    Wallabies: 18
    Tree kangaroos: 16
    Rat-kangaroos: 5
    Tenrecs: 6
    Solenodons: 8
    Shrews: 4
    Hedgehogs: 12
    Moles: 5
    Elephant shrews: 9
    Flying foxes: 7
    Vampire bats: 11
    Other bats: 5
    Tree shrews: 4
    Aye-aye: 12
    Lemurs: 14
    Sifakas: 15
    Indri: 16
    Lorises: 10
    Galagos: 10
    Tarsiers: 10
    Titis: 12
    Sakis: 10
    Uakaris: 12
    Howler monkey: 14
    Spider monkey: 13
    Woolly monkey: 12
    Night monkeys: 9
    Capuchin monkeys: 1
    Marmosets: 17
    Tamarins: 16
    Squirrel monkeys: 20
    Guenons: 10
    Macaques: 10
    Gelada: 15
    Other baboons: 12
    Mandrills/Drills: 14
    Langurs: 13
    Colobuses: 12
    Gibbons: 14
    Orangutan: 25
    Bonobo: 20
    Chimpanzee: 28
    Gorillas: 30
    Giant anteater: 15
    Silky anteater: 10
    Tamandua: 12
    Sloths: 14
    Armadillos: 9
    Pangolins: 22
    Rabbits and Hares: 18
    Pikas: 8
    Porcupines: 7
    Squirrels: 10
    Rats/mice: 6
    Beavers: 12
    Orcas: 40
    Dolphins: 42
    Beluga: 44
    Civets/Linsangs/Genets: 8
    Mongooses: 18
    Meerkats: 28
    Hyenas: 12
    Aardwolves: 11
    Malagasy carnivores: 9
    Smaller cats: 12
    Lynx: 14
    Ocelot: 14
    Cheetah: 22
    Clouded leopard: 16
    Leopard: 22
    Jaguar: 22
    Snow leopard: 25
    Tiger: 35
    Lion: 37
    Fennec fox: 12
    Other foxes: 9
    Wolves: 13
    Black bear: 16
    Brown bear: 24
    Polar bear: 34
    Sloth bear: 16
    Spectacled bear: 20
    Giant panda: 45
    Red panda: 28
    Raccoons: 10
    Skunks: 12
    Badgers: 11
    Weasels and martens: 9
    Giant otter: 24
    Sea otter: 30
    Other otters: 22
    Wolverine: 12
    Sea lions: 30
    Fur seals: 23
    Walruses: 28
    Elephant seals: 28
    Earless seals: 20
    Aardvarks: 20
    Hyraxes: 13
    Manatees and Dugongs: 35
    Elephants: 38
    Zebras: 22
    Kulans/Kiangs/Onagers/other asses: 13
    Black rhinos: 22
    White rhinos: 20
    Indian rhinos: 20
    Other rhinos: 22
    Tapirs: 15
    Red river hog: 12
    Other suids: 9
    Peccaries: 9
    Hippopotamus: 25
    Pygmy hippopotamus: 23
    Camelids: 10
    Giraffes: 24
    Okapi: 20
    Mouse deer: 11
    Musk deer: 10
    Muntjacs: 10
    Elk: 12
    Moose: 16
    Other large deer: 10
    Smaller deer: 9
    Pronghorns: 11
    African buffalos: 13
    Bison: 12
    Other bovids: 11
    Wildebeest: 12
    Elands: 13
    Oryxes: 12
    All other antelopes: 9
    Waterbucks: 10
    Impala: 11
    Klipspringers and dik-diks: 8
    Gazelles: 10
    Duikers: 9
    Musk oxen: 13
    Mountain goats: 12
    Takins: 14
    Ibex: 13
    Other caprids: 11

    Ostriches: 12
    Emus: 11
    Rheas: 9
    Cassowaries: 12
    Tinamous: 5
    King/Emperor penguins: 30
    Smaller penguins: 25
    Loons/Grebes: 6
    Coastal birds (sandpipers, oystercatchers etc.): 8
    Gulls and petrels: 9
    Albatross: 18
    Pelicans: 11
    Cormorants: 9
    Gannets: 11
    Ibises: 11
    Flamingos: 18
    Spooonbills: 10
    Shoebill: 14
    Herons: 8
    Storks: 8
    Ducks: 6
    Geese: 6
    Swans: 9
    Secretary bird: 10
    Ospreys: 10
    Large eagles: 12
    Smaller eagle + Hawks: 9
    Falcons: 8
    Kites: 8
    Vultures: 9
    Turkeys and quails: 7
    Peafowls and peacock-pheasants: 12
    Pheasants: 10
    Guineafowls: 9
    Hoatzin: 14
    Bustards and seriemas: 8
    Cranes: 10
    Rails and crakes: 6
    Kagu: 9
    Grouse: 6
    Dull doves and pigeons: 4
    Colourful doves and pigeons: 8
    Parrots: 13
    Parakeets: 12
    Macaws: 14
    Cuckoos: 4
    Turacos: 8
    Large owls: 9
    Small owls: 6
    Hummingbirds: 15
    Trogons: 8
    Rollers, mot-mots and bee-eaters: 9
    Hornbills: 12
    Hoopoes: 10
    Kingfishers: 10
    Woodpeckers: 4
    Birds of paradise: 12
    Colourful passerines: 7
    Dull passerines: 3

    Sea turtles: 22
    Softshell turtles: 10
    Other turtles:8
    Giant tortoises: 10
    Other tortoises: 9
    Tuataras: 10
    Iguanas: 10
    Other lizards: 3
    Anacondas, pythons and boas: 6

    Cobras: 6
    Venomous snakes: 5
    Other snakes: 4
    Crocodilians: 15

    Caecilians: 7
    Frogs: 3
    Toads: 4
    Giant salamanders: 10
    Other newts and salamanders: 5

    Whale shark: 40
    Large sharks: 16
    Medium-sized sharks (blacktips etc.): 12
    Smaller sharks (Bamboo sharks etc.): 9
    Manta rays: 30
    Other large rays: 11
    Smaller rays: 9
    Sturgeons: 14
    Gars: 12
    Groupers: 17
    Tarpons: 14
    Piranhas: 13
    Colourful reef fish: 8
    Dull saltwater fish: 3
    Large freshwater fish: 5
    Small freshwater fish: 2

    Sorry for such a long list, just wanted to cover everything. Can do arthropods etc. if necessary. Is this too detailed?

    I can give explanations for the weightings if necessary as well. :)
  5. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

    27 Oct 2008
    Thanks, that is indeed very detailed, much more than I was aiming for, which doesn't mean it is wrong, but just much more detailed than necessary.

    Just to clarify, I am not asking for a ranking of every species (group), but consider species (groups) that you think the average visitor would consider important, which, unfortunately, doesn't include Silky Anteaters.
    amur leopard likes this.
  6. Yoshistar888

    Yoshistar888 Well-Known Member

    11 Aug 2019
    Lesser bilbies are extinct. Awesome list though.
    Dassie rat likes this.
  7. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

    23 Feb 2019
    Sorry, meant the Greater bilby :D
  8. aardvark250

    aardvark250 Well-Known Member

    4 Jan 2016
    It's a hard question, given that zoo nerd species and average-visitors lovers vary quite differently.I think generally, the more it is present in zoo, the better it is loved by visitors.
    But my list would be:

    Aardvark:10 (not a general public animal, although it is 100/50 on my own list)
    Bears: 35 (people do quite like bear, and I've seen them being fed in zoos)
    Lions/tigers:40 (I mean, people love lions and tigers)
    White tigers: 42 (better than tiger in general)
    Black leopard/jaguar: 30 (I think people like the black version more than normal)
    Normal coloration leopard/jaguar: 22
    Small monkeys: 45 (playful and friendly, can be in walkthrough)
    Elephants:40 (every good-size zoo got one)
    Pangolins: 15 (i've seen people around the Taipei exhibit if it's feeding time, otherwise it is sleeping and not much to see)
    Meerkats: 40 (the standing posture is cute)
    Pandas: 43 (easily the best type of bear for normal visitors)

    Parrots: 40 (can talk, can perform in show)
    Shoebill: 25 (there is quite a fame for shoebill in Japan but not much else)
    Pheasants: 15 (not much to say)
    Peafowls:35 (beautiful coloration)
    Penguin: 35
    Pelicans: 20

    Crocodile of any type: 20 (common animal among people)
    Tortoise: 25 (they are big, slow and common)

    Any amphibian: <5 (sorry but people don't really admire them)

    Zoo visit: 21(+10 aquarium)
    No zoo working experience
  9. Scottish Wildcat

    Scottish Wildcat Well-Known Member

    1 Jun 2017
    Oh this is a really fun activity! A great way to kill a couple hours during quarantine. Making arbitrary lists of animals is my #1 hobby!

    So here's my list, also quite extensive, but I tried to simplify where possible. I've used some taxonomic terms, but only where the animals are similar-enough in 'attractiveness' to zoo-goers ('Camelids' including both camels, llamas, guanacos, etc). Of course grouping them so generally loses a bit of nuance (such as the distinctions between bears and large cats), but I tried to compensate as best as possible. For particular stand-out species I separated them from their taxonomy altogether (giants pandas>bears and meerkats>mongooses for example). I used a 'tiered' system (S>A>B) which allows for easier organization of groups and scored them within those parameters (Tier B is 30-39 for example). Again this is based on my perception of public popularity, not my own opinion (@ Hyena sweetie I'm so sorry). Amphibians, Fish, and Arthropods aren't my speciality, but they're not the most popular zoo animals anyway, so I tried to think of the most relevant groups

    S (48-50)
    Giant Panda: 50
    Lions and Tigers: 49
    Elephants: 49
    Great Apes: 48
    Cetaceans (Whales and Dolphins): 48

    A (40-47)
    Giraffe: 47
    Hippos: 47
    Old World Monkeys + Gibbons: 46
    Bears: 46
    'Medium' Cats (Jaguar, Leopards, Cougar, Cheetah): 46
    Penguins: 45
    Meerkats: 45
    Koala: 45
    Crocodilians: 44
    Otters: 44
    Rhinoceroses: 43
    Komodo Dragon: 43
    New World Monkeys: 43
    Lemurs: 43
    Sharks: 42
    Parrots: 42
    Giant Tortoises + Sea Turtles: 41
    Red Panda: 41
    Zebras: 40

    B (30-39)
    Large Flightless Birds (Ostrich, Emu, Rhea, Cassowary): 39
    Constrictor Snakes: 39
    Peacocks: 39
    Camelids: 38
    ‘Antelope’ (All other bovids + Pronghorn): 38
    ‘Large Waterbirds’ (Cranes, Flamingos, Storks, Herons, Pelicans): 38
    Sea Lions + Fur Seals: 37
    ‘Birds of Prey’ (includes Owls, Falcons, and Vultures): 37
    Large Canines (Wolves, African Wild Dog, Dholes): 36
    Macropods (Kangaroos and Wallabies): 36
    Okapi: 35
    Octopus: 35
    Smaller Tortoises + Turtles: 34
    Sirens (Manatees and Dugong): 34
    Bovini (Wild Cattle): 34
    Iguanas + Chameleons: 33
    Tapirs: 33
    Rays: 32
    Cobras + Vipers: 31
    Monitor Lizards: 30
    Seals + Walrus: 30

    C (20-29)
    Wild Pigs + Peccaries: 29
    Large Rodents + Lagomorphs (Beaver, Porcupine, Capybara, Rabbits, Hares): 28
    Xenarthra (Armadillos, Anteaters, and Sloths): 27
    ‘Other Lizards’: 26
    Tropical Fish: 25
    Procyonids (Raccoons and Coatis): 24
    Large/Dangerous Fish (Arapima, sturgeon, piranha, etc.): 23
    Kiwi: 22
    Wolverine + Badgers: 21
    Aardvark: 20

    D (10-19)
    Waterfowl: 19
    Deer: 18
    Caprinae (Wild Sheep): 18
    Small Canines (Foxes, Bush Dog, Jackals): 18
    Other Equids: 17
    Malagasy Carnivores + Civets: 17
    Mongooses: 16
    Hyaenas: 16
    Pangolins: 15
    Colubrids + Other snakes: 14
    ‘Other’ Marsupials and Monotremes: 13
    Freshwater Fish: 12
    Woodpeckers + Hornbills: 11
    Gamebirds: 10

    E (1-9)
    Frogs and Toads: 9
    Bats: 9
    Other Passerines: 9
    Corvids: 7
    ‘Insectivores’ (Moles, shrews, hedgehogs): 7
    Lorises (+ galagos/tarsiers): 6
    Large ‘Insects’ (Mantis, Butterflies, etc): 5
    Small Rodents (Mice, rats, squirrels, prairie dogs): 4
    Spiders: 4
    Skunks: 3
    ‘Seabirds’: 2
    Weasels and Polecats: 1
    Crustaceans: 1

    I honestly don't know how many zoos I've been too, sorry. I'm not one to count such things. At the very least >50
    Never worked in a zoo either
    Last edited: 6 Apr 2020
  10. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

    10 Feb 2012
    Interesting list, the one that stands out to me is Giraffe, only 24? It has to be comfortably in the top 10 most popular zoo animals, I would suggest 45 would be more realistic. I will get to work on a list, though it won't be quite as detailed as yours!
    amur leopard and lintworm like this.
  11. lintworm

    lintworm Well-Known Member

    27 Oct 2008
    Looking forward to your list.

    The nice thing of this method is that if enough people contribute such large differences should level out and a consensus list should be reached. If one was willing one could do some probabilistic modeling around it, to account for such variation around the average scores, but that would be needlessy complicated in this case.
    pipaluk and Scottish Wildcat like this.
  12. amur leopard

    amur leopard Well-Known Member

    23 Feb 2019
    Fair enough, I'm slightly influenced by family members who don't think much of them.
  13. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

    10 Feb 2012
    My observation wasn't a criticism, if you've used your family as a guideline that's fair enough,, to be honest I'm not that keen on them, I'd rather see a quoll, fanaloka, wombat, or tasmanian devil! But most of the UK public wouldn't even know what they were!
    amur leopard likes this.
  14. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

    10 Feb 2012
    On my list I will give my own personal ratings in brackets (unless that will ruin @lintworm calculations!)
  15. twilighter

    twilighter Well-Known Member

    5 Sep 2011
    Oslo, Norway
    @lintworm I have a list, but thought that is much more authentic to ask 10 non-zoo nerds family and friends for their favorite zoo animals. Will summarize it and post it later .
  16. Dassie rat

    Dassie rat Well-Known Member

    18 Jun 2011
    London, UK
    I've noticed a great interest in sloths over the past few years and suspect that their popularity score is higher than 27.
  17. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

    10 Feb 2012
    I agree on sloths, they are higher, but anteater and armadillo are considerably lower so 27 is a fair average
  18. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

    10 Feb 2012
    Here is my list, I have visited 103 zoos, the vast majority in the UK. I have never been 'employed' in a zoo, but over the last 5 years have visited 40 plus zoos a year with 70-90 visits a year!
    The first figures are public opinion, bracketed my own opinion!

    Marsupials 20. (30)
    Bats 15 (10)
    LEMUR 20 (25)
    Marmoset & Tamarin 15 (20)
    Small monkeys 20 (25)
    Large monkeys 25 (25)
    Gorilla 30 (25)
    Chimp 30 (15)
    Orangutan 35 (30)
    Bonobo 35 (35)
    Gibbons 35 (35)
    Anteater 20 (20)
    Sloth 30 (15)
    Armadillo 15 (15)
    Porcupine 10 (10)
    Squirrel 15 (15)
    Rats /Mice 10 (10)
    Dolphin 40 (40)
    Meerkat 35 (5)
    Hyena 20 (40)
    Lion 40 (25)
    Tiger 50 (30)
    Snow Leopard 30 (40)
    Jaguar 25(30)
    Leopard 23 (25)
    Cheetah 20 (20)
    Other small cats 20 (30)
    I will be timed out soon so will have to post rest of list separately
    lintworm likes this.
  19. pipaluk

    pipaluk Well-Known Member

    10 Feb 2012
    Canids 20 (20)
    Polar bear 45 (50)
    Giant Panda 45 (40)
    Brown Bear 30 (35)
    Other bears 30 (35)
    Red Panda 30 ( 30)
    Sea Lion 35 ( 30)
    Otter 30 (25)
    Wolverine, 20 (35)
    Aardvark 20 (20)
    Rhino 35 (40)
    Elephant 50 (40)
    Tapir 20 (35)
    Zebra 25 (25).
    Hippo 40 (45)
    Pygmy Hippo 35 (40)
    Suids 15 (20)
    Camelids 15(20)
    Giraffe 45 (25)
    Okapi 25 (45)
    Deer/Antelope 10 ( 25)
    Bovids 15 (25)

    I don't think the public are generally interested in anything non furry but

    Rockhopper penguin 40 (40)
    King penguin 40 (40)
    Other penguin 35 (30)
    FLAMINGO 25 (25)
    Parrots 15 (20)

    Crocodiles 30 (20)
    Snakes 20 (20)
    Lizard 15 (20)
    Tortoises 15 (15)
    Tuatara, 15 (45)
    lintworm likes this.
  20. Junklekitteb

    Junklekitteb Well-Known Member

    13 Sep 2019
    I feel that how an animal is presented and even its exact location can matter. I would guess normally people would prefer a macaque to a marmoset, but in one situation, the marmosets were in an attractive well signed exhibit near the entrance, where they attracted quite a bit of attention, whereas in another the macaques were somewhat less popular than normal, being in a somewhat bland exhibit towards the exit, where people were too lazy to actually focus on the creatures. Of course, this is not a rule, just an observation. I will try and post a list later, mainly focusing on animals found in Indian zoos.
    Neil chace likes this.