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Signage in zoos on individual animals

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Onychorhynchus coronatus, 2 Jan 2021.

  1. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Over the years I've come across a few examples of signage in zoos that explain a little more about the stories and "personality" or traits of individual animal kept on display and I always find them interesting.

    I think that we humans are a species innately attracted to stories and narratives and that these sorts of additions to a zoo enclosure / exhibit help the visitor connect to an individual animal rather than viewing them as ciphers.

    What do zoochatters think about this topic ?

    Does signage that reveals more about the story / life history of an individual animal in a zoo help to generate interest in a species and its ex-situ conservation ?

    Can you think of some examples of these kind of displays that you have seen in a zoo that are particularly effective ?
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2021
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  2. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Here is an example of this kind of signage that I came across last night, in this case on the last two blue ducks ( "Ben" and "Jerry") held at WWT in the UK.

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    Photo credit to @Maguari.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2021
  3. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    At Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary nearly every animal is a rescue in some way (usually either an injured wild animal that can't be returned or a confiscated illegal pet), and many of the animals have signs explaining their names and stories.
     
  4. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Do you think that in the case of this sanctuary this helps the visitor to empathise more strongly with the individual animals and causes of them being there or is it a nice addition but ultimately just "preaching to the converted"?
     
  5. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    From what I've observed this kind of signage does seem to be more commonly used by zoos for species like great apes, elephants, big cats and other megafauna.

    Here are some examples I found in the gallery relating to great apes:

    In depth signage at Pairi Daiza on distinguishing characteristics of the gorillas they keep so that the public can identify them more easily:
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    This signage from Bristol zoo even shows the daily diet of a lowland gorilla in captivity:
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    Signage on the individual orangutangs kept at Jardin des plantes zoo showing information about their life history:
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    This example from ZSL London certainly gives more information about the character of their silverback gorilla:
    [​IMG] Signage on recognizing the chimps at Barcelona zoo:
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    Similar chimp signage at Chester zoo:
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    Bonobo ID signage at San Diego zoo:
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    Photo credits to @gentle lemur, @KevinB, @Dianamonkey, @Gigit and @MagpieGoose.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2021
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  6. Rayane

    Rayane Well-Known Member

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    I understand why they matter and why one can enjoy knowing the "name" and the story of for example a Gorilla or else, but I personally really don't care about these kind of signs.
    I'd rather see every single species being signed, of course it's no easy task and it is even impossible in some zoos (Walsrode) but I think what matters the most to me is to be able to know what I'm looking for in an exhibit. Surprises are great, but sometimes if the animal doesn't show up while I'm there, and if it's not signed and I do not know about its presence, maybe I won't stay long enough for me to see a very nice species or a lifer.

    Overall, signage for individuals seems to be very common for Elephants, Apes and others ABCs. I've almost never seen it for birds, and I don't remember the name of any rodent I've seen.
    In Mulhouse I think 9 out of 10 lemurs had individuals signs with their names and a few words to describe their personnality.
     
  7. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    I suppose one question I would have about this kind of signage would be if it is also applicable and effective at allowing visitors to feel a connection to the stories of species that are not megafauna and not traditionally seen as "charismatic" like the blue ducks at the start of the thread?
     
  8. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Yes, I agree, it isn't the sort of display that meets everyone's tastes and it can come across as a bit anthromorphic or "Disneyesque" if done in the wrong way and not tastefully.

    But I do think these kind of displays have some potential and personally I enjoy learning about the history of the individual animals at a zoo and the names given to them by their keepers etc.
     
  9. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Some individual elephant signage examples at zoos that I've found.

    A sign for "Yhetto" the elephant at Belfast zoo:
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    Sign for Asiatic elephants at Taronga zoo:
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    Asiatic elephant sign at Planckendael zoo for "Tun Kai":
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    Elephant signs at Antwerp zoo :
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    Photo credits to @akasha, @KevinB and @Stefka.
     
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  10. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Some examples of big cat signage on individual cats I've managed to find in gallery.

    Lion sign from Rotterdam zoo:
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    Interesting example of lion ID sign from ZSL London in a "Bollywood" style poster:
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    Minimalistic name signs for "Barbary lions" at Port Lympne zoo (and their late keeper):
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    Tiger ID sign from Lincolnshire Wildlife Park:
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    Amur tiger ID sign at Yorkshire Wildlife Park:
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    Sumatran tiger ID at Chester zoo:
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    Photo credits to @vogelcommando, @MagpieGoose ,@Big Rob, @Jordan-Jaguar97 and @Nisha.
     
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  11. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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    I'm generally not fond of name signs. They're common in roadside zoos, where they're used to build connections and get donations. As @Rayane said, I would much rather see all species signed correctly! Beyond that, they can be difficult and costly to update.

    I don't mind ones that help ID individuals, though.

    Here's some examples I have.

    Philadelphia:
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    Pittsburgh:
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    Smithsonian:
    20191006_114539.jpg
     
  12. TinoPup

    TinoPup Well-Known Member

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  13. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Totally agree about them being potentially costly to update and also agree that I would rather see decent signs that showcase the species and give information about its ecology and conservation plight.

    That said I am curious about the potential of signage to increase engagement with non-megafaunal species.

    Thank you for these pictures, there are some terrific examples here.

    The ones I like most are the mongoose lemur and the the aye-aye / giant jumping rat (love the names given to these ! the keepers have a great sense of humour :D).
     
  14. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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  15. Rayane

    Rayane Well-Known Member

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    Well, they're costly to add, making new ones is certainly an investment, however, removing them is not hard enough for it to justify the many many many times I saw signs of species that were not there anymore.
    I think it is also a great way to educate the public, showing them what the animal would look like if they were able to see it (as usually, the missing signs are for birds).

    Although now packed and probably not up to date anymore as many of the back then off-show birds are now on-show, as they're renovating the behind the stage building, Plzen has a very extensive sign collection and that's partly due to the simplicity of their signing system : a wooden frame, a plastic cover and a few screws allows you to print yourself your signs and to add or remove them fairly easily. I visited Plzen over 3 years ago so I might be wrong but this is a system I've seen in other zoos anyway.

    Back to the signage for individual animals, although I actually never end up finding the said animal, the fact that Asian elephants have pretty much always individual signs helps the identification of the subspecies : most of the times the herds are a mix of many subspecies and/or hybrids, and having the name and the birth place of the elephant can help clarify things.

    Edward the Giant jumping rat seems to be the first rodent to have a sign for himself on this thread, has anyone seen any other small mammals that are not primates (except for Meerkats) have signs ?
     
  16. birdsandbats

    birdsandbats Well-Known Member

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    Judging by the way some of the signs are worded, I'm guess it's to calm down the people who give them crap about taking innocent animals from the wild.

    It does a very good job of making me feel a connection with the animals, though.
     
  17. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the signs for the blue ducks at WWT that I've posted at the start of the thread here are a couple more that I've found in the gallery :

    Penguin ID signs at Kyoto aquarium :
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    This is presumably an ID sign for hyacinth macaws at Burger's zoo:
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    For the "largest Beluga sturgeon" at Mondo Verde aquarium:
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    Tortoise name signs at Zoo Usti nad Labem:
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    Hippo ID signage at Antwerp zoo:
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    Signage from an Australian "Koala hospital" :
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    Grey wolves at Shalom wildlife zoo:
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    Kind of a low key name sign for Japanese giant salamanders at Honolulu zoo:
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    Posthumous sign for a snowleopard at Lincoln park zoo:
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    Brown bear at Tierpark Ulm:
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    "Victor" the polar bear at Yorkshire Wildlife Park:
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    "Inca" the Asiatic bear at Dudley zoo:
    [​IMG]
    Memphis zoo polar bear signage :
    [​IMG]

    Photo credits to @DaLilFishie, @Milwaukee Man, @Benosaurus, @Brum, @akasha, @vogelcommando, @Tim May, @betsy, @KevinB, @German Zoo World, @snowleopard and @Zebraduiker.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2021
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  18. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    This is really quite a good example of signage that communicates info on individual animals but also a sad example as it is about the last pair of Nilgiri langurs at Erfurt zoo, "Bonnie" and "Billy".

    [​IMG]


    Photo credit to @Maguari.
     
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  19. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Quite a nice sign for "Collins" the tree kangaroo at Toronto zoo :

    [​IMG]

    Photo credit to @cypher.
     
  20. Onychorhynchus coronatus

    Onychorhynchus coronatus Well-Known Member

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    Nice singage on individual animals on display at this NZ wildlife sanctuary:
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    Photo credit to @Najade.
     
    Last edited: 3 Jan 2021
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