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CZAAWE Resource Article
Quality vs. quantity: Assessing the visibility of the jaguars housed at Chester Zoo, UK
Year of publication
To fulfill an educational or visitor-related role in the zoo's collection, a species needs to be visible to the visiting public. However, this may not always be achievable for animals housed in naturalistic enclosures, particularly species which are highly camouflaged and have an elusive nature, such as jaguars. Four jaguars housed at Chester Zoo (UK) were studied to assess the quality of visibility from the public viewing area and to provide recommendations for assessing visibility to evaluate the educational role of elusive species. Data were recorded on whether the jaguar could be seen, the proportion of the body that was visible and their behavior. The jaguars could be seen 19.5% (i.e. quantity), from the public viewing area, of the observed time. 69.2% of this time the whole of the jaguars’ body was on-show and it was possible to observe their behavior during all of these observations. However, when less of the body was visible, the behavior of the jaguars could be observed on significantly fewer occasions (P < .001). When we incorporate behavior and proportion of body into the analysis and look at ‘educationally meaningful visibility’ (i.e. whole of the animal's body and a behavior could be observed), then the measurement of visibility is reduced to 13.3% (i.e. quality). A simple yes or no, in relation to whether an animal is visible or not, does not give us the detail needed to assess if a species is fulfilling an educational role. Potential solutions to address poor visibility are also discussed. Zoo Biol. 34:189–192, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals Inc.