Enclosure Design

Designing animal enclosures is not a simple process.

Each species, or relevant groups of species, have exacting requirements and there are many regulations and considerations to incorporate into the design and build.

Enclosure design has also changed over time, matching the change in human perception of animals, their conservation and their welfare. Enclosures should now provide ample opportunity for animals to express naturalistic behaviours through providing appropriate physical and psychological stimuli, while also being safe for the animals and the visitors.

Some of the aims for enclosure design include the provision of naturalistic enclosures, which are also aesthetically pleasing and which may provide visitors with an immersive experience. Barriers around an enclosure should be minimalistic, but more than adequate for health and safety of the visitors.

Viewing should also be managed with the animal in mind, for example allowing for private spaces. There may be specific requirements which are species dependent such as the amount and type of water and relevant enriching furniture. Basic housing requirements must also be met with more than adequate lighting, heating, ventilation and provision for care (e.g. keeper facilities).

There are many requirements to consider and getting the right design can involve a long planning process, but it is important to get it right for the animals and for the visitors.

Begin your decision making for a Painted Dog enclosure - interactive storyboard

Original Plans

Design Principles 

Dog Check List

Enclosure design podcast featuring Simon Mann.

Click below to view a short video of the building of the Painted Dog exhibit at Chester Zoo, from the very start of the process to its completion, and the subsequent arrival of the Painted Dogs (Lycaon pictus)