What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
Giving Compas' Take:
• This article reflects on the connection between zoo architecture and the natural environment, the balance between science and slick branding, and the zoo building's hybrid role as a prison, theater, and museum.
• How can donors support the conservation mission of the zoo? How can other zoos or other groups use this strategic plan to inform their own conservation efforts?
This year, more than 181 million people in the United States will visit a zoo. Globally, in cities from London to Beijing to San Diego, zoos are major tourist attractions and beloved local amenities. But how many visitors pay attention to the architecture as well as the animals? According to Natascha Meuser, not enough.
Frustrated at the lack of unified literature on zoo design, Meuser, an architecture professor at Germany's Anhalt University of Applied Sciences, wrote the book she wanted to read. Zoo Buildings: Construction and Design Manual is in equal parts a history of zoo design, a manual for animal-enclosure best practices, and a choose-your-own-adventure of visual case studies.
Meuser chronicles the evolution of the modern zoo from "a living collection of game trophies, to a museum of live exhibits, to a theme park with a moral mission." Surveying more than 80 historical and modern zoos across the world (with a particular focus on her native Germany), she takes readers through the fraught and ever-shifting relationship between humans and other animals, shaped by colonialism, conservation, and capitalism. She makes the case that zoos should be treated seriously as their own building typology, and, more broadly, return to their earlier role as scientific institutions.
Read the full article about the modern-day zoo by Taylor Moore at Pacific Standard.