South Lakes Safari Park, Mixed Species Exhibit - ‘Africa'

Name and quantity of species

* African Lion - Panthera leo (2)

* White Rhino - Ceratotherium simum simum (3)

* Hamadryas Baboon - Papio hamadryas (36)

* Giraffe - Giraffa camelopardis (3)

Description of the Exhibit

The exhibit is a large grassland enclosure approximately 13,500m2.It includes a Rhino enclosure to the rear which is adjacent to the Giraffe house, and a separate Lion enclosure at the base of the grass covered slope. The exhibit is open plan and unattractively barren looking; although this ensures that all animals on display can be clearly seen by visitors, it is not a true reflection on the all of the animal's natural habitats. An overhead walkway allows visitors an immersive experience as well as a view of the entire enclosure, including into the Lion exhibit, which cannot be clearly seen into from ground level. It is apparent from the different types of barriers used in the enclosure that the requirements for each species have been taken into account .The exhibits ‘grassland plain' area is surrounded by a dry moat with hot wire used as secondary barrier. Reinforced pipe barriers are used in the Rhino enclosure. The Lions are surrounded by a 10m high overhanging chain link fence with hot wire at the base and top. All the animals have ‘off show' area within their enclosures to limit stress.

Educational Value

From an educational perspective I feel there was need for improvement, noticeably with the quality and quantity of the signage displayed .There were four pieces of signage scattered around the exhibit, with the two principle signs located on the overhead walkway and on the path opposite the Lion enclosure .The main sign was well placed as it overlooked the exhibit, and enabled the visitor to read and watch the animals simultaneously. However, the design of the sign was confusing. The format of using sub-headings such as; description, reproduction, and diet was not uniform in all species displayed. This coupled with large quantities of text in small font limited its appeal and hence its educational value. The signage did display icons informing the visitor on the Safari Parks involvement with the European Endangered Species Programme and on its significant contributions to international in-situ conservation projects. The sign also appeared out of date as it displayed information relating to the Cape Porcupine (Hystrix africaeustralis),however according to both the Safari parks online list of residents and ISIS, this animal does not currently live at South Lakes Safari Park!.

The signage used in the Giraffe house although lacking in presentation was informative and educational. It used maps and graphs to show the visitor the rate of extinction of the Giraffe in East Africa and the results of a census from which the data was obtained.


The methods enrichment used also varied according to each species. Food based enrichment methods took precedent. While present I noticed ‘scatter feeding' taking place with the Hamadryas Baboons and burlap bag filled with hay was used in the Rhino enclosure. As the exhibit was of mixed-species, it could be considered that the exhibit itself could be used as a form of environmental enrichment as interspecific interaction has been shown to enrich the lives of animals in captivity.

I would consider this enclosure to be a successful example of a mixed species exhibit, although the enclosure itself needs to be less barren looking and the signage updated. The advantages of having a mixed species exhibit can be seen through the large area given to all species within the enclosure. The behavioural enrichment through interspecific interaction benefits all the species in the exhibit and provides a more interesting and educational opportunity for the park visitors.

South Lakes Safari Park, Immersion Exhibit - The Aviary

Name and quantity of species

Andean Condor - Vulture gryphus (1)

King Vulture - Sarcoamphus (1)

Macaw - Ara (2)

Rodriguez Bat - Pteropus rodricensis (25)

Western Grey Kangaroo - Macropus fulginosus (16)

Alpacas - Vicugna pacos (3)

Yellow Anaconda - Eunectes notaeus (1)

Description of the Exhibit

The exhibit is a large South American themed outdoor aviary approximately 1600m3, with indoor heated housing located on the periphery. The aviary is constructed with metal girders and covered with wire mesh. An overhead walkway runs through the exhibit giving the visitors the opportunity to walk through the aviary and experience the sounds and vegetation typical of an Amazonian rainforest. At the centre of the outdoor exhibit is a large water feature surrounded by plants and perching posts. The majority of the signage is located with in the indoor aviary.

The indoor aviary also contained a water feature and South American themed vegetation. A pathway led the visitor passed the Birds of Prey and Macaws into this themed area. The vegetation consisted of Ferns, Banana Trees, and Orchids. The water feature consisted of a pond which contained Goldfish and Koi. The large windows to the left of the visitor gave the impression of being surrounded by vegetation on both sides which increased the immersion effect. The Rodriguez Bats (Pteropus rodricensis) were located past this area and were on display in a glass enclosure.

Educational Value

Most of the signage was ‘temporary' laminated signs located next to each animal's enclosure. A sign giving an overview of the threats to the rainforest habitat would have been beneficial as it would have given the visitor an important insight into the threats this habitat faces. The Bird of Prey sign was informative as it gave the details of the birds IUCN classification and details of its participation in the European Endangered Species Programme .The naturalistic addition of a live Yellow Anaconda (Eunectes notaeus) added to the excitement that the design of a good immersion exhibit should bring. This is important as it engages the visitor, holds their attention and increases the likely hood of the visitor leaving having learnt something of value.


Suitable enrichment was provided in the main outdoor aviary in the form of vegetation and perches placed high with in the aviary; but lacking in the indoor exhibit. Perches made of natural branches were placed inside each indoor enclosure. The Macaws benefited from nuts scattered on the floor of their enclosure. However, there was not any enrichment obviously in effect in the Rodriguez Bat enclosure. The bats were clustered around lights and probably needed an appropriate indoor roosting site.

Using this exhibit as a comparison to the exhibit visited later on; ‘Amazonia', I would not consider this exhibit to be a successful example of immersion. The majority of the signage was poor and unprofessional, and the housing of Western Grey Kangaroos (Macropus fulginosus) inside the exhibit gave it an unauthentic air. It could be improved by increasing the quantity of signage and using glass windows on the exterior of the indoor aviaries. The door leading out of the main exhibit area had the tendency to bang against the kangaroo enclosure, leading some of the animals nearby to display signs of stress; perhaps a different design could eliminate this problem.

Blackpool Zoo, Mixed Species Exhibit - ‘Australia'

Name and quantity of species

Red necked Wallaby - Macropus rufogriseus (3)

Western Grey Kangaroo - Macropus fuliginosus (4)


This is a small square shaped exhibit, approximately 200m2 .The main vegetation is grassland, and there is an artificial rock formation located at the front left of the exhibit. Trees ringing the rear of the exhibit could be used for shade. A garden shed has been used to create an ‘off show' area at the rear. A dry moat, protected on the visitors' side by railings, surrounds the front of the exhibit and an overhanging fence with hot wire protects the exhibits inhabitants on both sides. Two signs are located on the railings at the front. The enclosure does not in anyway attempt to reflect the animal's natural habitat as no indigenous vegetation was available and no obvious signs of enrichment were visible. A bench was situated next to the railings and enabled the visitors to see the animals clearly.

Educational Value

The quantity of signage was poor and located in an awkward position for the visitor to read comfortably. One of the signs was temporary and conveyed little information to the visitor. The other sign although badly positioned, was informative and gave information such as, habitat, conservation status, threats and the species inclusion in the European studbook programme. Enclosure design is important in attracting the visitor's attention and stimulates them into reading the signage. This ‘plain' looking exhibit could be easily by-passed by the visitor and the educational opportunity it holds could be lost.

This exhibit compared to ‘Africa' at South Lakes Safari Park was an ineffective multi-species exhibit, it held little in educational or entertainment value. The signage was poor and the enclosure was a poor imitation of the species natural habitat. As there was only two species contained in the exhibit the addition of other native species would have made the exhibit more realistic.

Blackpool Zoo, Immersion Exhibit - ‘Amazonia'

Name and quantity of species

Scarlet Ibis - Eudocimus ruber (2)

Ringed Teal - Leucophyrs calloneta (2)

Toco toucan - Ramphastos toco (3)

Red Fronted Macaw - Ara chloroptera (1)

Agouti - Dasyprocta punctata (6)

Common Squirrel Monkey - Saimiri scuireus (13)

Fulvous Whistling Duck - Dendrocyna bicolour (7)

Black Necked Swan - Cynus melanocorphus (4)

Blue Throated Conure - Pyrrhura cruentata (3)

Description of the Exhibit

Amazonia is a large oval free flight aviary constructed with metal girders and covered in wire mesh dome. It is approximately 1700m3.The interior is covered in lush tropical vegetation and contains a waterfall which runs over an artificial rock formation and continues into a pond in the centre. A pathway across a bridge has been constructed around the pond and allows visitors the opportunity to walk around the aviary. A simple rope barrier separates the visitor from the vegetation and the wildlife living there, completing the immersive effect. The signage is of a high quality and widely distributed through out the enclosure. Its division into different categories such as Birds, Mammals, Forest Floor and Canopy make it clearer for the visitor to distinguish between the different species displayed. The entire aviary could be considered an enrichment device for both the visitors and inhabitants, as the exhibit displays in a highly realistic way the diversity of nature within the Amazon.

Educational Value

Of all the exhibits visited I believe this enclosure held the most educational value for the visitor. The enclosure immersed the visitor in the sights and sounds of the Amazon rainforest. The interpretive signage is professional and informative without being overly detailed and contains large pictures of the animals which the visitor can use for species identification. Importantly the signage gives the threats that the Amazonian Rainforest faces and the reasons why conservation of this habitat should be paramount.

Compared to the free flight aviary at South Lakes Safari Park this exhibit covers all of the requirements for both the animals and visitors. This is a successful example of an immersion habitat and there is very little room for improvement.

Knowsley Safari Park, Mixed Species Exhibit -‘Mixed African Savannah Exhibit'

Name and quantity of species

Leopard Tortoise - Geochelone pardalis (2)

Plated Lizard - Gerrhosaurus validus (3)

Description of the Exhibit

The small enclosure, 12m2, is housed inside the ‘Bug House', and contains species of Tortoise and Lizard. The enclosure consists of an artificial rock formation with a heat lamp which creates a basking rock for the Lizards and Tortoise. The ground is covered in a sand substrate, emulating their natural habitat. The enclosure is a glassed tank, which is considered suitable for reptiles. Several laminated signs are placed around the enclosure. The signage is poor and unprofessional and appears to be targeted solely at children. Food based enrichment in the form of different types of vegetables and browse are visible on the floor of the enclosure. There is also a lack of hiding spaces and ‘off-show' area for the reptiles.

Educational Value

The glass barrier allows visitors an unobstructed view into to the enclosure and its height makes it accessible to young and disabled visitors. The interior of the enclosure accurately represents the habitats of the animals displayed. The signage is the weakest aspect of the exhibit, giving minimal information which fails to engage the visitor. The signs have a temporary feel and there is an absence of interpretive signage.

There is no comparison between this and the previously visited mixed-species exhibits. This exhibit would not engage the visitor on an educational or emotional level. The exhibit could be improved by updating the signage to include maps and diagrams, allowing the visitor to see the animal's countries of origin and grant the visitor a greater opportunity to interact with the animals by partially removing the glass barrier while still limiting access to the animals.

Knowsley Safari Park, Immersion exhibit - ‘Monkey Jungle'

Name and quantity of species

Olive Baboon - Papio Anubis (143)

Description of the Exhibit and Educational Value

The monkey jungle is a large grassland immersive exhibit inside Knowsley Safari Park. The enclosure contains a tree lined road and an artificial pond to the rear. The entire enclosure is surrounded by a high tension wire fence which adds to immersive effect of entering the animal's habitat; by it becoming almost invisible. This increased interaction between guests and animals allows the visitor to become more involved in the experience. Signage around the exhibit was almost non-existent but I feel this did not detract from the educational value as the visual interest in the Baboons might lead the visitor into pursuing their conservation status once they had left the Park. Food based enrichment in the form of scatter feeding was in operation whilst visiting the park, which encourages foraging, and the trees planted around the exhibit gave a realistic representation of the roosts these Baboons would use for sleeping.

I would consider this to be successful immersive exhibit. It engages the visitor and imitates the natural habitat of the species, with both animals and guests benefiting from this enriching environment.

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