CZAAWE Resource Article

Visitor Circulation and Nonhuman Animal Welfare: An Overlooked Variable?
Publication Type 
Journal Article
Year of publication 
2004
Authors 
Publication/Journal 
Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Abstract 
This article investigates visitor circulation and behaviors within a gallery of primate exhibits in relation to their possible implications for nonhuman animal welfare. When entering a primate house, the majority of visitors (84%) turned right, a pattern upheld throughout all times of the day. These findings demonstrate the existence of the "right-turn" principle, a concept previously identified and investigated in the museum setting. The existence of this circulation pattern in zoos has important implications for the practical management of animal welfare issues because unbalanced or large numbers of visitors at specific enclosures could present a stressful influence. The "direction bias" could not be attributed to demographic or behavioral traits, therefore suggesting that the principle, like similar findings from museum research, generalizes across visitor populations and, therefore, zoos. A visitor sample at another exhibit (located outside the exhibit gallery) did not display a direction bias, suggesting that the marked circulation pattern may be specific to exhibit galleries. The article discusses the significance and consequences of visitor circulation with respect to visitor management and animal welfare.