Variation in visitor perceptions of a polar bear enclosure based on the presence of natural vs. un-natural enrichment items
Article first published online: 9 DEC 2008
© 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Volume 28, Issue 4, pages 292–306, July/August 2009
How to Cite
Kutska, D. (2009), Variation in visitor perceptions of a polar bear enclosure based on the presence of natural vs. un-natural enrichment items. Zoo Biol., 28: 292–306. doi: 10.1002/zoo.20226
- Issue published online: 13 AUG 2009
- Article first published online: 9 DEC 2008
- Manuscript Accepted: 13 NOV 2008
- Manuscript Revised: 3 NOV 2008
- Manuscript Received: 26 MAR 2008
- environmental enrichment;
- visitor learning;
- visitor studies
A debate exists among modern zoo staff as to whether or not the addition of un-naturalistic enrichment takes away from, or even defeats, the educational messages designers are trying to incorporate in naturalistic exhibits. A visitor study was conducted at the Central Park Zoo's polar bear exhibit in order to determine whether or not the type of enrichment in an enclosure actually alters guest perceptions. Visitors were exposed to one of two enrichment treatments in the bear enclosure: Naturalistic or Un-naturalistic. The results of this study suggest that enrichment type did not alter the perceptions of visitors. However, it did identify some of the different ways adults and youths perceive animals and zoos. Additionally, the study highlighted the varying perceptions individuals have of the concept of polar bears vs. their perceptions of the captive individuals at the Central Park Zoo. Implications for enrichment usage and exhibit design are discussed. Zoo Biol 28:292–306, 2009. © 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.