Postoccupancy evaluations in zoological settings

Angela S. Kelling, Diann E. Gaalema

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


A postoccupancy evaluation (POE) is a systematic assessment performed to examine the effectiveness of the built environment after occupation. Although POEs have been mainly used to examine the effectiveness of built environments for human usage, they can and should be adapted for use in zoological settings. Zoological exhibits have evolved from when hygiene concerns ruled design to current trends that involve elaborate exhibits that often cost millions of dollars. Thus, it is imperative to conduct evaluations to ensure that these exhibits function to meet the complex needs of all users. It is crucial to perform a comprehensive POE that focuses on all three user groups; animals, visitors, and staff. However, work in this field is limited. Animal research has tended to remain very primate-focused with differing opinions as to what constitutes optimal outcomes. Zoo visitor studies often have limited scope and differing methodologies. Additionally, research on zoo staff opinions and feedback is almost nonexistent. A new exhibit opening at a zoo has huge potential for improving the welfare of the animals it will house, enhancing the zoo visitor experience, and improving the workplace for zoo personnel. Building the best possible exhibits requires not only the analysis of how the built environment affects all three groups, but also dissemination of those findings to guide future design.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-610
Number of pages14
JournalZoo Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Design
  • Postoccupancy evaluation
  • Zoo
  • Zoo staff
  • Zoo visitor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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