The impact of exhibit design on zoo visitor dwell time based on an unobtrusive observational methodology in Central European zoos


  • Attila Istvan Kohut M.Sc.
  • Krisztian Katona, PhD PhD



exhibit features, ungulate, unobtrusive observation, visitor interest


In this study, the effect of different exhibit designs on visitor dwell time was evaluated based on an unobtrusive and covert observation method in Budapest Zoo, Prague Zoo and Sosto Zoo. The time spent showing direct interest toward the species in an exhibit was measured. Observations took place under the criteria of visibility and fixed weather conditions. Exhibits displaying members of Cervidae and Bovidae were investigated to minimise taxonomic and size differences. The results demonstrate a clear difference between the times spent at different exhibits in the zoos. There was no influence of taxonomic group on visitor dwell time. However, the study showed exhibit features that did affect visitor dwell time. Overall, four features appeared to increase dwell time, one decreased dwell time, and seven had no significant influence. This study provides a generalised estimate that can be applied in different geolocations and aimed at visitors with different demographic characteristics. The results will allow zoos to strategically plan the design of their exhibits and use these features to increase visitor interest, although further research is needed to translate this engagement into pro-conservation knowledge and action.

Author Biography

Krisztian Katona, PhD, PhD

Krisztian Katona has been working at the Institute for Natural Resources Conservation, Department of Wildlife Biology Szent István University, Godollo since 2000, actually as an associate professor. He obtained his doctoral degree at the Department of Ethology of Eotvos Lorand University, Budapest in 2005. He teaches a wide range of subjects at both BSc and Msc levels and was the supervisor for approx. 150 dissertations and scientific student essay theses so far.
He does research in Animal Science, Ecology and Ethology. His current main project is about 'Measuring the impact of ungulates in forested and grassy ecosystems'. List of publications is available here:




How to Cite

Kohut, A. I., & Katona, K. (2022). The impact of exhibit design on zoo visitor dwell time based on an unobtrusive observational methodology in Central European zoos. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 10(2), 59–65.