Paddock Design

A number of the interfaces in Jurassic Park show a plan view map of the paddocks on the island. Some of them are quite unusual (take a look that that wraparound one in the center) and we wondered if the paddock shapes made any sense. It’s a little outside the site’s focus on interaction design, but that didn’t matter. Once we had the question, it kept tugging on our gastralia.


But, we’re not zoo architects, so we reached out to one of the premier such agencies, CLR Design in Philadelphia. They specialize in designing zoo environments and have an impressive portfolio with plans and exhibits all over the United States and around the world.

Don’t see any unarmed dinosaur paddocks HERE, now do you?

Don’t see any unarmed dinosaur paddocks HERE, now do you?

“They,” we thought, “They’ll be able to give us an informed opinion.” So we shot them an email, explained the odd request, and to our nerdy delight Dan Gregory gave us the following awesome thoughts.

“In a real world zoo outdoor exhibit for large animals there are typically…

  • indoor holding facilities
  • off-exhibit yards to give the animals outdoor space away from visitors
  • the exhibit habitat (outdoor space visible to visitors)
  • visitor paths to optimal viewing vantage points
  • service paths for staff access to the holding facility and yards.

If the holding/yards are not directly adjacent to the exhibit, sometimes there are transfer chutes. Also, if multiple species share habitat space either simultaneously or in a time-share arrangement (“Hey! Round up the Apatosaurs ‘cause it’s time to let the T-Rex out!”), then the holding and chutes would surround the exhibit like spokes to a wheel hub (in concept, the reality depends a lot on the existing/desired terrain and existing exhibits). You can find some examples of our and other designers using these concepts by doing a Google search of zoo exhibit design pdf of Google Image search of zoo exhibit design.

“A good example is the Giants of the Savanna area of the Dallas Zoo.


Zoom in to more detail if you like in this PDF.

“See how in the lower left the elephants share space with zebra, impala, and ostrich, but are separated from the giraffe and distinctly separated from the lion and cheetah?


Yes, this is the same image from above. We here at CARE.

“In at least a few scenes of Jurassic Park you saw plenty of herbivores sharing land. The small faux island exhibit map in your screen grab illustrates a potential shared habitat to the right, with visitor/service roads, and a thin perimeter buffer zone around the entire park. The ‘unarmed’ zone in the lower portion could represent an area that is allows visitor viewing but only under strict stay on the path conditions.

“So all in all it is, or at least could be, a fairly credible representation of a potential dino park.”

 Woot! So…Way to go, Jurassitechts. A passing grade. Thanks, Dan!

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