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The Placement of Labels

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by gentle lemur, 22 Oct 2015.

  1. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

    8 Sep 2007
    South Devon
    A funny thing happened on my way round Dudley Zoo this week. As it was more than 20 years since my previous visit, I knew the general geography of the zoo, but many of the exhibits had been refurbished or rebuilt and even more of them had different animals in them. Of course in many cases the animals were obvious and easy to recognise - I know a great grey owl or a black spider monkey when I see one. But if the animal was not immediately visible I didn't know what to look for because I couldn't see the label on the enclosure - which was rather disconcerting. Of course there was a nice informative label, but it was placed at the far end of the enclosure, so I could only read it after I had walked past the exhibit.
    You may think that I was going the wrong way, because if I had been going in the opposite direction I would have seen the label before looking into the exhibit: but Dudley's geography means that there is only one obvious way of walking round the zoo as the path spirals anticlockwise around and up the hill until you reach the castle at the top. The placement of the labels is a deliberate policy because exactly the same happens in the Reptile House, which has a one-way system, so you have to walk past the exhibit to read the label, and then look back to find the animal if you didn't spot it the first time.
    This strikes me as odd and rather irritating. I cannot see any advantage to doing it. Can anyone think of an explanation?

  2. Benosaurus

    Benosaurus Well-Known Member

    9 Aug 2013
    West Midlands, UK
    Very few of their exhibits have signs that are placed at the far end (I've just had a quick walk around on Google street view). However, for those that do, my first thought was that because the main paths are narrow they don't want people bunching up in the middle reading the signs when zoo vehicles and the frequent land train are trying to pass. That being said the spider monkey sign is right in the middle! At Dudley, visitors and zoo vehicles share paths that are the only way of accessing the rest of the zoo.

    The signs at Dudley are of varying size- most exhibits have a very small label (easy to miss) with the species name, picture and distribution map along with a larger, much more informative, sign to one side. Although this is very inconsistent and mostly found on the newer/ larger exhibits.

    Maybe it's zoo policy that they want the view of the animal uninterrupted. It may just be random, accidental or simply installed by an innocent maintenance person. Maybe we're too used to visiting far better quality/laid out collections to cope with Dudley's quirkiness. Dudley isn't currently at a stage where they're looking at the minor details, but hopefully they will in time.

    My theory with regards to the reptile house (visitors walk clockwise with most exhibits on their right) is that perhaps the first exhibit, which is on a corner, doesn't have any space to put the sign on the right hand side of the window, so they had to put it on the left. This will then have had a knock on effect with the next reptile exhibit, so that the only place for its sign is also on the left of the window... and so on. Meaning you have to walk past each window in order to view the corresponding sign.

    GL, out of interest, what route did you walk? I usually go flamingos-snowy owls-tigers-giraffes-Barbary sheep-otters-orang house-up the steps to the gibbons-sea lions- penguins-reptile house-reindeer-back to the orang house-lemur walkthrough-lions-chimps-camels.