NC Zoo Bird Exhibit

The designers of the North Carolina Zoo in Asheboro offers an interactive tropical bird exhibit where visitors can enter an enclosed tropical space to learn about, view, and photograph a variety of different exotic bird species. The space is catered to all ages, with clear signage and opportunities to learn more about the birds. The signs offer both pictures and words that identify the species of bird, which is especially helpful to younger visitors. The exhibition paths are wide, wheelchair-accessible, and also consist of larger open spaces to enjoy viewing the birds. The enclosure is clear, so the space does not feel overly confined or dark due to the abundance of natural sunlight. The exhibit is full of tropical plants, which also have signage for people who are curious about the different plant species. From a design perspective, the tropical plants are strategically utilized by incorporating different textures, sizes, and colors of plants while also providing some continuity and repetition through some repeated elements, such as prayer plants throughout the exhibit.

The path does not have obvious arrows but an implied direction weaving through the exhibit from the entrance to the exit. The entrance is also at a higher elevation than the exit, which makes the direction visitors are supposed to take to experience the exhibit more obvious. The gradual difference in elevation is also a strategic educational experience as it allows visitors to see the birds that may prefer being in the trees compared to some of the ground-dwelling species. The higher entrance allows visitors to see a large portion of the exhibit, which may make them feel safe and also intrigued by the smaller details they may get to experience as they venture deeper into the enclosure. The concealed views from the abundance of plants aids the tropical atmosphere and encourages curiosity.

The paths are mostly concrete or natural wood, creating a more natural environment for the birds. Some sections of the concrete path have metal grates that filter in hot air to replicate the natural environment of the tropical plants and birds. There are handrails accompanied by signs asking people to remain on the path. The built elements contrast with the planting beds which signify spaces that are off limits to visitors. This is beneficial to both the birds’ and visitors’ safety, so the birds have an opportunity to distance themselves as needed. One suggestion I would have for the exhibit is to offer signs at a variety of heights, perhaps with simplified bullet points and fun facts about the birds, so children can see and understand them more easily.┬áThe NC Zoo designers were overall successful in creating a tropical space that welcomes curiosity.