Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

Course Number:
BMZA 260
Course Title:
Exhibit Design
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:
Special Fee:

Course Description

Explores the design process of zoo exhibits to ensure that the physical and psychological well-being of captive animals is considered as well as safety and aesthetic issues. Department permission required. Prerequisites: BMZA 101. Audit available.

Addendum to Course Description

Student teams will be required to build a three-dimensional model that demonstrates their knowledge and understanding of the exhibit design process.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon successful completion, students should be able to:

  • Provide input into the design of zoo exhibits, considering all of the following: water features; plantings; the anatomical, behavioral, social, environmental enrichment, feeding, and loco motor styles of the animals; needs of zoo staff (e.g. keepers, veterinarians, etc.) including husbandry, sanitation, capture, restraint, introductions, observations, sight lines and separations; public viewing and messaging.
  • Ensure compliance with all USDA and other governmental and accrediting body regulations and recommendations during the design process of zoo exhibits.

Course Activities and Design

The format for this course is traditional lecture presentations and class discussions. Lecture will be presented utilizing a variety of multimedia and interactive presentations.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

  • Class attendance, participation and contribution to discussions
  • Complete homework assignments
  • Write all scheduled examinations and quizzes
  • Participate in team design and construction of an exhibit model

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

Themes, Concepts, & Issues:

  • Historical review of animal exhibition practices
  • Exploration of ethical and cultural issues related to public exhibition of live animals
  • Government regulations and accreditation standards related to animal exhibit design
  • Identification and discussion of critical elements of exhibit design that address:
    • Animal health and welfare concerns (including anatomical, behavioral, social, reproductive, environmental enrichment, feeding, locomotion, and multi-species considerations)
    • Keeper issues (including barrier construction, off-exhibit holding, sleeping, maternal and juvenile areas, husbandry, sanitation, capture, restraint, introductions, observations, access, sight lines, and separations)
    • Veterinary considerations (including sample collection and treatment areas)
    • Public viewing and education issues (including safety, comfort, enjoyment, and learning)
  • Balancing the needs of the animals, keepers, veterinary and education staff, and the public
  • Research and selection of materials used in exhibit construction (including barriers, substrates, water features, plants, and play structures)
  • Application of design considerations as a member of a team
  • Working within limited physical locations, time constraints and budget considerations

Process Skills:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the purposes and practices related to the effective exhibition of live animals to the public
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the elements required in the successful design of a live animal exhibit in order to meet the diverse needs of audiences that include: animals, keepers, veterinary staff, other staff (e.g. education, facilities, research/conservation) and visitors
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the complex nature inherent to the exhibit design process
  • Demonstrate and apply the design process to the zoo setting
  • Work effectively as a team member and advocate for the animals in the design process