Zoos are the most important way of learning about animals for people. They are also effective educational environments for natural habitats of animals. Zoo design must be a successful exhibit of animals identical to their natural habitats. Therefore, the image of people about animals in natural settings can appropriately be formed. This study investigated whether the areas in which the animals are exhibited make any difference on the perceptions of visitors. The study has two stages, comprised of two questionnaire survey carried out with 420 zoo visitors. In the first stage, the reasons for visiting zoo and visitor preferences of exhibits were determined. In the second stage, we determined how spatial differences of zoo exhibits influence visitor perceptions. The collected data were analyzed using chi-square test, t test, and factor analysis. Results suggested that, spatial differences of zoo exhibits have significant influences on visitor perceptions. Animals exhibited in the semi-natural settings of the zoo are perceived as if they are in a natural setting, while animals in the caged exhibits that are perceived totally different from their natural living environment. The results have also shown that people visit the zoo for educational purposes especially for their children.
Key words: Visitor perception, semi-natural zoo exhibits, caged zoo exhibits, spatial differences.
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