Tweaking Night Hunters

We’ve been collecting some great feedback from those of you who have experienced the new Night Hunters exhibit. Thanks to all who have shared their thoughts and advice via Facebook, blog comments, exit surveys, and so on. It is much appreciated and greatly helps us in being able to provide the best experience possible.

One of the major concerns that visitors have expressed is that it’s too dark. Yes, it is a nocturnal exhibit, but we certainly don’t want people stubbing their toes or losing their loved ones! We’ve added in more of the twilight blue lighting along the front hallway recently that should help with that. We’ve also added a bit more light to some of the darker exhibits such as the potto and Burmese python.

Another comment we’ve heard is that the animals are always sleeping or hiding. To this I say, come back and see us again on a different day and time! The beauty of it is that you have a different experience each and every time you visit.

We can’t expect the animals to be right up front and active all the time. What you’re observing is more true to life, not a documentary that pieces together just the best, most exciting moments of an animal’s life. Just like housecats, wild cats spend much of their day resting and sleeping.

We do provide enrichment to keep our animals happy and healthy and make sure they get enough exercise and activity. At different times throughout the day, the keepers introduce snacks, scents, and other novelties into the exhibits, which certainly gets the animals up and moving. Ocelots, in particular, go crazy for the scent of Obsession cologne, and you should see our fishing cats move when live minnows are put in their pool.

On the other hand, we also have to give the animals plenty of time to rest and relax to meet their needs. Imagine if you had people peering at you through your windows at home all day long as if you were the star of your own reality TV show. I bet you’d want to escape at times to have a few quiet moments to yourself. Our animals can choose to take a break, too.

That said, keep in mind that Night Hunters has only been open for a little over a month. For many of the animals, this is a brand new home. As they acclimate to their new environment over time, they will become more comfortable and more likely to hang out where people can see them. Some of the animals are also getting used to a new day-night cycle as well. The cats, for example, have had their days and nights switched as they are now on a reverse light cycle. As they adjust, so should their patterns of activity.

Another frustration visitors have expressed is that it’s too crowded. As a brand new exhibit that opened during the beginning of our peak visitor season, Night Hunters is definitely seeing a lot of traffic. It’s definitely a different experience depending on how crowded it is inside the building. You can avoid the crowds by making Night Hunters your first or last stop of the day or coming on a less-than-perfect weather day when there are less people at the Zoo. Try coming back in a few months when the excitement of a new exhibit has calmed down some, too.

Keep the comments coming! Let us know what you like so we can continue to offer those types of experiences and let us know what you weren’t too crazy about so we can try to address those issues in the future. I’d especially love to know how your opinions might have changed after walking through Night Hunters a few different times. We really do care about what you think and want to make YOUR zoo the best it can be.