A Jungly Feeling: The Atmospheric Design of Zoos

  • Michael Hauskeller
  • Tom Rice


This chapter examines the importance of atmosphere in understanding our experiences of zoos. It focuses in particular on the role played by sound in the production of atmospheres in the zoo context. Zoos often work hard to generate atmospheres which are appropriate to their purpose as sites for entertainment, education and conservation, and the encouragement of environmentally responsible behaviour. Drawing on first-hand experiences and observations of zoo visiting, the chapter considers some of the different types of atmosphere that zoos create, pointing to some of the ways in which atmospheres may allude or resist the attempts made to direct or construct them. The chapter also suggests that the non-human animals kept in zoos are likely to have their own atmospheric experiences of zoo space, which are perhaps very different in character from those of visitors and staff. We argue that zoos are atmospherically heterogeneous and complex and face continual challenges as they try to design and maintain atmospheres in line with institutional aims and visitor expectations. A key atmospheric challenge for zoos is to reconcile visitors’ desire to observe and experience forms of natural and ecological otherness with the realities of managing and displaying closely controlled animal populations.


Atmosphere Zoos Sound Design Experience Animals 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Hauskeller
    • 1
  • Tom Rice
    • 2
  1. 1.University of LiverpoolLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.University of ExeterExeterUK

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