Join our zoo community

What will zoos be like in the future?

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by TheMightyOrca, 17 Nov 2015.

  1. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    28 Jan 2014
    Posts:
    1,263
    Location:
    League City, Texas
    At any point in the future, how do you expect zoos will change? In terms of collections, or exhibit styles, whatever you can think of.

    I notice a lot of new exhibits are built with immersion in mind, so I think there's gonna be a lot more focus on that in future zoos. Exhibits that let you get closer to animals while also feeling like you're in their environment.
     
  2. Loxodonta Cobra

    Loxodonta Cobra Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    1 Aug 2015
    Posts:
    393
    Location:
    West Hartford, CT, USA
    While not related to what they will be like, I wish in the future that there will be more zoos in the world.

    As to what they will be like, I imagine that many animal species will be phased out from captive collections. Species that are rare but the public are simply not interested in despite being critically endangered or of educational interest, will be overshadowed by the immense popularity of ABC species. I see zoos attempting to as the years go on participate in more and more programs to protect the wild habitats of animals and to eventually release their stock back into the wild. I wish for zoos in the future to crack the codes that have yet to be/rarely revealed in animal husbandry: greater success in cetacean breeding, AI of reptiles etc. I wish for some species to be taken into captivity that need it: Multiple lemur species, multiple old-and-new-world monkeys, pangolins. However as mentioned these may be shadowed by a simple uninterested in them by guests. Speaking of guests I see zoos making large zones based on habitat and continent, with large areas for guests to view different animals, yet relatively medium space for the animals themselves.
     
  3. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    28 Jan 2014
    Posts:
    1,263
    Location:
    League City, Texas
    It's probably just wishful thinking on my part, but I like to think that the current public interest in science isn't just some short fad and that it will encourage zoos to advertise (and thus, have more of) their weird and obscure animals. Alas, the current trends don't seem to be going that way, but I can dream.

    Speaking of cetaceans... With the general public becoming more critical of cetacean captivity, I suspect that more zoos and aquariums will start looking into renovating their exhibits, like we've seen with elephant exhibits in the past 10 years. Perhaps a focus on larger, deeper tanks, made to resemble natural environments.

    I could definitely go for pangolins, and while you're just talking wishfully, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw them become a bit more common in captivity in the future. I've noticed they've been getting more attention over their plight, and they are very interesting animals unlike anything else we see in many zoos. I think the big trick would be figuring out how to breed them reliably. If some facility can figure that out, I imagine more zoos would be willing to go through the extra effort of keeping them.
     
  4. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    12 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    3,786
    Location:
    California, USA
    Some trends that have popped up that could be the waves of the future:
    1. Conservation carousels: They are all over and spreading.
    2. Large predator exhibits with training walls for keeper presentations
    3. Small and medium zoos with elephants closing down their elephant exhibits
    4. Zoos building large naturalistic bear exhibits to replace grottos
    5. Fruit bats seem to be an emerging popular exhibit
    6. Many zoos are building penguin exhibits
    7. Integration of reptile, amphibian, and invertebrate exhibits into mammal exhibit complexes rather than just having them in traditional herp houses (this is not a new trend, but it seems to be increasing)
    8. Zoos are noticing that they have plant collections that they can interpret for their visitors with special tours and interpretive signage
    9. It seems like almost every giraffe exhibit either has or will have a giraffe feeding component.
     
  5. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    28 Jan 2014
    Posts:
    1,263
    Location:
    League City, Texas
    Oh, god, the giraffe thing, ha ha. Yeah, that got very popular very quickly. Can't say I'm too surprised. Giraffe feeding is pretty cool and I imagine there's not much risk. I have a pretty poor perception of size (especially when it comes to animals) and being able to get so close helps me get a good idea of how big they really are. San Antonio Zoo is opening their giraffe exhibit soon and I'm pretty convinced that giraffe feeding is a major reason they chose to get them.

    I haven't noticed the fruit bat trend. Hope it comes to my regular zoos soon, I love bats but it's so hard to find good exhibits. I'd love to see more exhibits with the larger fruit bats, since they tend to be easier to see than small bats, and I guess they don't require dark exhibits. I went to the Moody Gardens rainforest pyramid in the summer, I was SO excited to get a good look at some bats just hanging around in the open.
     
  6. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,116
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    Neither have I. A few species (Carollia perspicillata, Rousettus aegyptiacus, Pteropus rodricensis) are doing and breeding well in captivity and are thus more frequently exhibited. The captive populations of other species are either at best stagnant (Pteropus giganteus, hypomelanus, lylei, poliocephalus, vampyrus as well as Glossophaga soricina [to a certain extent]), limited to a few institutions and specimens (Epomophorus gambianus, Megaderma lyra, Noctilio leporinus, Phyllobates discolor/hastatus, Pteropus livingstonii, Pteropus conspicillatus in the US, Styloctenium wallacei as well as local bat species in zoos/collections of AUS and Asia) or are phased out/disappearing from the collections (Cynopterus brachyotis in the US, Desmodus rotundus in Europe, Pteropus pumilus in the US, Eidolon helvum to a certain extent in Europe, the single specimen of Thoopterus nigrescens at Berlin). Artibeus jamaicensis, which is pretty common in US zoos is completely absent from European zoos.
    With the disappearance of classical nocturnal houses from zoos, I'm not sure that we're going to see more bat species or bat exhibits in the next future; bat walk-throughs, maybe, but that can be a Public Health issue. Displaying flying foxes in outdoor exhibits and training them (as at Columbus Zoo, Animal Kingdom, Gelsenkirchen etc.) is a trend I can only recommend.
     
    Last edited: 18 Nov 2015
  7. DavidBrown

    DavidBrown Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    12 Aug 2008
    Posts:
    3,786
    Location:
    California, USA
    It may be that increased bat exhibits are a local trend to parts of North America. The San Diego Safari Park and the Sacramento Zoo in California have added bat exhibits recently. The Santa Barbara Zoo and Los Angeles Zoos have had bats in the past. Future bat exhibits at those institutions seem like realistic possibilities as new master plans emerge.
     
  8. gentle lemur

    gentle lemur Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    8 Sep 2007
    Posts:
    3,778
    Location:
    South Devon
    I think the trend for enclosures with more natural appearance will continue (I don't like the term 'immersive' in this context) probably linked to the trend for larger enclosures with larger groups of animals - although this can't be applied to all species. I'm afraid that the trend for giving exhibits silly and grandiloquent names will also continue :rolleyes:
    I also expect that there will be more rides and tours through exhibits - railways, monorails, boats, moving walkways and so on; possibly linked to new technology with apps for smartphones, tablets and whatever comes next. I don't think that there will be very many new walk-through enclosures, as there is a limit to the number of species that can safely be housed in them, although I wouldn't be surprised to see more mixing of species and more exotic planting in walk-throughs to make them immersiver (I apologise to grammarians everywhere for this neologism, but I think we need it).
    I hope that zoos will continue to establish and support conservation projects in foreign countries and find more ways to link the exhibits at the zoo to their work in the field.

    Alan
     
  9. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,947
    Location:
    New York, USA
    I agree with Alan that these landscaped exhibits are not the same as "immersive" exhibits. Landscape immersion is a specific design approach that few zoos will indulge in completely. In fact, I agree with pretty much everything Alan wrote.

    Most of what has been posted seems to me to be a list of what zoos have been doing for the past ten years. So what about ten years from now?
    Zoos have been challenged to defend their very existence. In the decades to come, I expect Zoos will continue to diversify, amping up the conservation message while also catering to an increasingly experience-starved, entertainment-addicted young populace.

    Most zoos have struggled to up-date and replace older exhibits and that trend will continue to dominate over expanding with new forward-thinking exhibits. Zoos in general are not courageous, ground-breaking institutions. Most are very conservative in their thinking. The coming decades will demand that zoo leaders think beyond amusing local families and focus more on positioning themselves as vital conservation and education organizations. They have little choice, IMO

    Finally, I expect that there will be greater presence of keepers and docents in the visitors' experience. Zoos are coming to realize that it takes people to connect animals to visitors. Keepers have gone behind the scenes in the last half of the 20th Contury and in recent years (with training walls, etc) they are moving back out front where they used to be. Expect more of that.
     
  10. groundskeeper24

    groundskeeper24 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    16 Jul 2008
    Posts:
    418
    Location:
    Kentucky, USA
    I think the day of the destination zoo with super-rare species is over. If you have a zoo with a one -of-a kind species such as Cincinnati and their Sumatran rhinos, I think you can expect these species to be gone if no breeding success is achieved. I also expect few new rare species to come into collections.

    Collecting animals from the wild is and has been a frowned-upon practice for zoos. Obtaining animals from dubious sources like hunting riches and safari parks is also a bad idea in this day and age. Obtaining animals rare or common seems to be more and more of a problem as time wears on. I' wouldn't be surprised if even some ABC type species vanish from parks if they can't be produced.

    I see a a future where zoos basically all have the same species, more or less with a bigger focus on exhibitry than collections.
     
  11. Ned

    Ned Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 May 2009
    Posts:
    480
    Location:
    South Gloucestershire, UK
    I think there will be a continual blurring of the line between captive and wild, partly because an increasing human population will lead to a greater fragmentation and management of 'the wild' a partly because zoo enclosures will get bigger and more natural. Gene exchange between wild animals and captive animals will also have to be mastered, maybe through gamete collection and AI. I wonder if there is a possible industry here making wildlife financial benefit local populations?
     
  12. Mr. Zootycoon

    Mr. Zootycoon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Jun 2015
    Posts:
    229
    Location:
    probably in a zoo
    In some extent zoos have been updating their exhibits of certain taxa almost at
    the same time. Think of the recent elephants enclosures and replacement of bear grottos
    by more natural looking enclosures. Several taxa might be next, en looking to recent
    plans birds are at least part of the next 'wave' (macaws, flamingos). I hope
    this will lift the popularity of birds and other non-mammals and stops the
    mammals-only attitude of some zoos (of course, with exeption of the specialist parks).

    But mostly, I think the whole "erlebnis-thing" will only increase.
    People like it, and done well it is good for the animals too.
     
  13. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,116
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    Somehow, I doubt that. Modern humans are mammals themselves, and that hugely influences their sympathies in regard to other living creatures. With a few exceptions (in particular "talking" parrots), birds will always have a hard stand when competing with elephants, gorillas and tigers for the attention of most zoo visitors.

    It depends what you consider "done well"-for the visitors, the staff, or the animals? A truly satisfying amalgam of all I have yet to see...
     
  14. TheMightyOrca

    TheMightyOrca Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    28 Jan 2014
    Posts:
    1,263
    Location:
    League City, Texas
    And in addition to sympathy, people also have a preference for larger animals. There are only a handful of very large bird and reptile species, while there are lots of big mammals.

    Now, for another prediction... I think zoos in the future will have a little less focus on kids. Thanks in part to social media, adults and teenagers are focused more and more on having experiences, and I could easily picture zoos working to meet that demand.
     
  15. Mr. Zootycoon

    Mr. Zootycoon Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Jun 2015
    Posts:
    229
    Location:
    probably in a zoo
    I didn't say 'I hope' without reason ;)

    Birds will most likely not become the star attractions in zoos
    (exept some specialist parks, again), but when displayed properly,
    they can become major 'supporting cast.' Especially larger
    species (eagles, flamingos, pelicans, vultures, storks, macaws).
     
  16. Zooplantman

    Zooplantman Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    23 Jan 2008
    Posts:
    2,947
    Location:
    New York, USA
    Perhaps. Anything's possible
    But families are zoos' big audience and spend money to do things together. Educating children is high on zoos' list of priorities.
    Zoos have struggled for decades to attract older non-parents and people who haven't started families (yet). Zoos have yet to figure out how to do that. Zoos today are obsessively studying millennials. Millennials are not returning their calls. :D
     
  17. Jurek7

    Jurek7 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    19 Dec 2007
    Posts:
    1,624
    Location:
    Everywhere at once
    Cologne Zoo did it. After building several conservation-based exhibits, especially South Asian house and elephant park, zoo started to be seen as a place more culturally and educationally oriented, rather than simplistic entertainment, and number of youth and non-family visitors soared.

    Completely opposite to the dumbing down of most zoos today. However, Cologne has now built a very childish zoo farm. So maybe they decided that non-families are not worth it.

    Also, zoos 100 years ago were seen as fashionable places where educated people come. For example London Zoo was a place to bee seen in by London elite. You would never say it about London Zoo now, where most famous visitors were probably Dursleys with that another child in tow.

    What zoos really haven't figured out is how to diversify for different groups of visitors. Now they are caring only for the lowest common denominator.