When a zoo becomes something more

In preparing the Cleland Wildlife Park Master Plan with our project partners WAX Design, Phillips Pilkington Architects, Graham Morris (cultural attractions), Lorraine Edmunds (interpretation), Peter Stroud (wildlife animal management) and EBS Ecology, we have been exploring the concept of the “unzoo”.

As described by collaborators John Coe, Ray Mendez and Tony Koterski, unzoos place people and animals in a more equitable relationship than the traditional zoo experience of looking at/ down on the animals through glass or bars.

Unzoos are underpinned by immersion design theory based on the belief that learning is initiated through emotional responses such as awe, fear, love, surprise and delight. These strong emotional reactions trigger a desire for understanding and motivation to learn more about the subject.

Cleland Wildlife Park can play an integral role in increasing people’s sense of emotional connection to the natural environment. In particular, we have fostered the concept of the “unzoo” in a number of exhibits in the Master Plan, such as the wombats and echidnas.

The Master Plan has recently been endorsed by the DEWNR Executive as the basis for seeking funding for ongoing implementation.