The name 'Design For Life' relates to the design of environments for animal and people interactions. Primarily, this means simulations of the natural habitats of animals with provision for their observation by humans in discrete, respectful contexts. Unlike circuses and the zoos and menageries of old. People should encounter wild animals in situations where, while safety is assured, psychological cues in the landscape plus a willing suspension of disbelief, inform people otherwise.
The human species is in evolutionary terms a creature of the savannah. Where sparse woodlands made our physical height an advantage in observing prey and predators. To this day, we feel safest in landscapes that are open, with turf and ornamental trees dotted - a stylised savannah. The task of zoo design today is to ignore this and create landscapes where the wild animals feel most comfortable and provide suitable points where we can observe them.
Making such provisions for people is a necessary compromise on the ideal of replicating true wilderness. But the same goes for any real (non-artificial) animal habitat: where ever we go, we inevitably interfere and cause change in those habitats. "Leave nothing but footprints; take nothing but photos" yet this only works when visitor numbers are extremely low. Tracks form, feeding stations set up to get animals to pose. And with global warming we do not even need to go to these wild places.
If adding value to habitat protection by replicating them in zoos and other wildlife facilities can contribute to planet-wide conservation efforts, then zoo design has truly gone beyond simple entertainment at the expense of wild animals.
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