There's a lot more to designing animal enclosures than meets the eye!

When desinging new enclosures and exhibits, a number of different factors have to be taken in to account including the needs of the species that you are designing and building for. For example, the number of animals in the group, their welfare and safety needs, the provision for built in stimuli etc.

We also need to consider the needs of the keepers that will be working with the animals on a daily basis, and the visitors to the zoo.

All of the needs of the species are taken into account when designing an enclosure; such as their behaviour, reproduction, habitat, feeding, and activity budgets. For example, an animal that lives in the trees needs to be provided with lots of opportunities for climbing on ropes and branches.


'Normal' group size of a species is taken into account when deciding how many animals will be being housed, which in turn may affect the design.

For example, a solitary animal, such as a kinkajou, will generally be kept on their own, while the aim is to keep social animals in suitable groups such as our marmosets. It is important to provide them with sufficient space to sleep, feed, play and have enough space to reduce the chances of conflicts occurring within the group and for individuals to avoid each other should it be necessary.


Considering the behaviour of the animal in the wild is also important, if an animal rears its offspring in a burrow or cave, or tree then it is important to provide them with items and surroundings that enable them to reflect this in the zoo. Ideally the enclosure should reflect the environment that the animal comes from which can be achieved by appropriate decor in the enclosure. This will encourage the natural behaviours discussed in the planning stages of the design.

Temperature, lighting, humidity and photo periods must also be suited to the specific animal and should relate to natural cycles.