By Joell Dunham, Sedgwick County Zoo
Several facilities have hosted traveling exhibits in order to boost attendance or to increase revenue. Last year, a survey was conducted by the Information and Survey Committee to help answer some of the questions about hosting a traveling exhibit. Here are the results: 20 AZH members representing 18 facilities responded. More than 55 percent said they have hosted a traveling exhibit; 25 percent said they had in the past, but not recently; and 15 percent said they had not hosted a traveling exhibit before.
Of those that hosted traveling exhibits before, 75 percent said that the traveling exhibit stayed 3–6 months. Most of the facilities sought out the exhibit that they wanted to host. Traveling exhibits that AZH facilities have hosted include: The Scoop on Poop; Penguin Landing; Komodo Dragon; Biomechanics: The Machine Inside; The World of Giant Insects; Crittercam; Lorikeets, Budgies & Cockatiels; Koalas; Reptiles: The Beautiful & the Deadly; Minotaur Mazes; Tarantulas & Bugs; Lego; Geico Gecko; Big Bugs; Washed Ashore; Extreme Bugs; Wooly Mammoth; Sustainable Seafood; Clyde Peeling’s Frogs: a Chorus of Color; and Dinosaurs.
Each exhibit required some preparation. In some cases additional electrical outlets or lights were needed. In others extra water and air lines had to be installed. Larger equipment had to be rented, platforms had to be built, and protected storage had to be set up for empty crates during the run of the exhibit. Each traveling exhibit differed with regard to who was responsible for the care of animals (if present), repair of equipment, and who was trained to maintain the exhibit.
The companies that proved easiest to work with demonstrated certain characteristics: it was easy to reach the company or the person in charge, questions were answered quickly, instructions were clear and concise, timelines were followed, and the public enjoyed the display. Almost all of the respondents said that talking with a facility that had hosted the same traveling exhibit before was very helpful. Close to 80 percent of the facilities that have hosted traveling exhibits in the past said that the goals for hosting the traveling exhibit were reached.