Sense the Wild

Creating a business opportunity for the Metro Richmond Zoo through research, strategy, and experiential design.

CONTEXT
DATE
TOOLS
Student Project
Aug 2021 - Dec 2021
Rhino 3D, Adobe Illustrator, Figma
Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Revit
Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Revit
Figma, Adobe Photoshop, Revit
TEAM
ROLE
SKILLS
Solo Project
Strategist, UX/ Experiential Designer
Research, Strategy, Experience Design
01
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OVERVIEW
BACKGROUND

The mission of the Metro Richmond Zoo is to promote animal conservation and to educate and inspire guests.

The Metro Richmond Zoo is a privately owned, for-profit zoo about 20 miles southwest of Richmond. The zoo opened to the public in 1995 and was home to 167 animals of 15 species at the time. Today, it houses around 2,000 animals of 190 species. The zoo is accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA), and has one of the largest primate collections in the United States.

The zoo caters mainly to families with young children.

Featuring a Safari Sky Ride, Jungle Carousel, Safari Train Ride, Kids' Playground Area, Treetop Zoofari Zipline and Adventure Park, the zoo is a great place to bring children for a day trip.

CHALLENGE

The current exhibit signs are text-heavy, not engaging, and don't encourage play.

A feasible solution needs to be engaging, budget-friendly, and encourage empathy and conservation-behavior.

OPPORTUNITY

How might we improve the visitor experience and create a lasting interest in animal conservation?

02
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SOLUTION

Introducing Sense the Wild Exhibits

For zoo visitors who desire more interactivity, the Sense the Wild exhibits inform the visitors in engaging and compelling ways that utilize several senses. Unlike text-heavy signage, our product encourages people of all ages and abilities to participate and play, generating interest and empathy for the animals.

Step into our fur, walk around in our hooves, and learn what it’s like to be an animal of the wild.

SOLUTION FEATURES

Animal Artifacts

Small Play Structures

Engaging Signage

SOLUTION IMPLEMENTATION
Current Gray Wolf Exhibit

Proposed Gray Wolf Exhibit
03
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STRATEGY
TARGET
REGIONS
INTERESTS
Families with young children
Virginia
Play, education, conservation
Image source: MRZ

KEY FINDINGS

Currently, the zoo uses text-heavy signage to communicate educational and conservation messaging.

My research revealed that “signs that reinforce visitors’ sense of wonder, awe, excitement, and that encourage imagination, empathy, and reflection can enhance the long-term impact of visiting a zoo or aquarium” (Packer & Ballantyne, 2010).

At empty exhibits, visitors often become disengaged.

As any parent knows, “opportunities for mental and physical stimulation are needed to keep small children engaged and interested in any experience, including zoos” (Scott Ramser, 2017).

Opportunities for play are relatively limited to the children's zoo.

It is widely known that play is the work of childhood. It is how the primary method in which children learn and engage with the world. I found that “we can nurture empathy in children by providing them with perspective-building play materials.” (London Children’s Museum, 2020).

04
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PROCESS
To begin my research, I conducted an ethnography visit at the zoo. This enabled me to produce my key findings and validate existing assumptions.

I then created a journey map, studying the user journey throughout the zoo visit.

I tested my ideas with the public through a field survey.

I analyzed the viability of my idea through a business model canvas.

I produced a roll-out plan for the zoo to ease into this proposal.
05
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REFLECTION
MY TAKEAWAYS

Thank you!