elizabeth roths

Art History

When I first began college in the fall of 2012, I was studying Zoology. After many courses and a few switches to my major, I landed in Art History. My thesis is the culmination of my academic career, combining my passion for animals with my love for art. My thesis is a survey of designs implemented in zoological exhibits and how they have changed over time. This academic program has been a wonderful opportunity that has prepared me for whatever my future might hold.



A Controversial Debate: The Tradition of Exhibiting Animals in Zoos from the 1970s to the Present

My research examines zoological exhibit design. This is a critical reflection of not only the treatment of animals in captivity but our sensitivity to their struggles to and ever-shrinking natural world.Zoos have evolved from strictly containment spaces into educational centers. The gap in literature caused by the question of what the animal’s needs are.Animal needs and consideration of intelligence are important questions to research but this should not take away from the importance of providing them a dynamic environment to live in and meet their needs in the most efficient way. Exhibits of rare animals draw attention to conservation efforts, and modern natural enclosures seem to be preferred over unnatural historic enclosures.

In my paper I examine how exhibit design is being paired with educational spaces to promote and provide the best environment possible to meet the needs of keepers, visitors, and of course the animals who live their lives within the spaces. My research indicates that with better exhibits comes better education and therefore more attention to conservation efforts. By investing in zoological education programs to improve educational efforts, we are foster understanding between humans and animals.