Zootopia seeks to break down barriers between humans and animals


August 6, 2014

Zootopia is a newly designed zoo that aims to provide the animals with an open habitat  without visible barriers between them and the visitors (Image: Big Architects)

Zootopia is a newly designed zoo that aims to provide the animals with an open habitat without visible barriers between them and the visitors (Image: Big Architects)

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Zoos traditionally hold animals in distinct enclosures into which visitors can peer. Newly unveiled designs for Givskud Zoo in Denmark, however, look to shake up this model. Zootopia will feature open landscapes for the animals into which visitor viewing points and routes will be built in a way that minimizes conspicuous barriers.

The Zootopia concept was conceived about five years ago in a workshop amongst Givskud Zoo staff, with help from design and conceptual agencies. Architectural work begun about two years ago and has been carried out by Big Architects.

The zoo has three areas representing Asia, Africa and America set within 120 ha (1.2 sq km) of land. Its design seeks to minimize the number of conspicuous barriers between animals and visitors. Visitors to Zootopia will be able to move between the three different zones using a network of walking and cycling trails.

More traditional safari-style tours will be used when viewing wild animals such as lions, with guests able to step out into safe-zones to view the animals up close. In the same way that viewing areas for visitors will be built into the landscape, so too will accommodation for the animals.

"The most special feature is the we want to eradicate all experience of fences and buildings, making Zootopia the universe of animals." director of Givskud Zoo Richard Østerballe told Gizmag. "Hopefully [it will be] a unique experience where people meet the animals in their universe and not in the traditional zoo experience."

A central circular building will contain amenities such as a restaurant, a shop, a ticket office and toilets. From this central point, visitors will be able to either go out and explore the park or climb on top of the building and look across the park from a high vantage point.

The entrance into each of the continent zones is through three different gates from the central building. In addition to following the trails, visitors will be able to travel by boat through the African zone and by cable car through the American zone.

Østerballe says it will take an estimated 20 years to complete Zootopia, assuming funding can be secured. A partial opening is planned for 2019 during the 50th anniversary year of Givskud Zoo.

Source: Givskud Zoo, Big Architects

About the Author
Stu Robarts Stu is a tech writer based in Liverpool, UK. He has previously worked on global digital estate management at Amaze and headed up digital strategy for FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology). He likes cups of tea, bacon sandwiches and RSS feeds. All articles by Stu Robarts

I think that is really neat. It is similar to what Disney has in Florida.


This is not new, has been done and animals tend to hunt each other, or hide in the bushes.

Bob Flint

This appears to be the same general idea as the San Diego Wild Animal Park in a smaller space. The Danes can be counted to separate mutually antagonistic animals with barriers, and to locate vegetation so that visitors can see the collection.


This or a very similar idea has and is done in San Diego, California USA. It is called the "WILD ANIMAL PARK" and has been in operation for over 20 years. It is fabulous and is an extention of their great zoo in Balboa Park near downtown San Diego. Voted among the best zoos in the word, It is not nearly as large as this one proposed but they should be consulted while building Zootopia, they could be very helpful.


IMHO, Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Orlando Florida is one of the best zoos in the world mostly because it is only partially a zoo. Its a theme park with shows, rides, incredible theming, all around the theme of animals and has some really great exhibits. Other zoos might have more animals and such but AK has more for everyone to love and plus they have people from the countries representing the "lands" in those areas.

Rann Xeroxx

You could deal with the predation problem by training the young predators with shock collars, or better implanted shock devises.

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