People Watching…in the Zoo!

21st Century Design, Assignment 3, Photography

Last Thursday for my 21st Century Design Module, I was on a class trip to Edinburgh Zoo. I had never been before so I was really excited for it! As it was a class trip, I had to go there not only to see the many animals but to observe and take a note of the different types of people and their reactions whilst in the zoo. This was quite a fun experiment because it was interesting to see how different people/age groups etc reacted to the animals and the zoo as a whole.

For this trip, I decided to go in a team with Amy Malcolmson and Errin Miller. As the zoo was very big, it was easier to do it in a smaller group!. Whilst walking around the different enclosures, we managed to take a lot of information down about different people’s reactions as the zoo was quite busy when we arrived!

When I was looking around, I was thinking about the sort of social behaviours that are normally associated with the zoo for example, the strict rules (for obvious reasons of course!) not to feed animals etc so this makes me think about how people feel more cautious around the larger animals, how different ages groups react for example, children seemed much more excited and more enthusiastic than their parents to see the animals however, their parents were happy that their children were enjoying themselves.

So when I was walking around looking at the animals and people watching, I noticed particular behaviours among different age groups, here’s what I observed:

  • Children – very excitable, eager to get to the front of the enclosures to see the animals, laughter, raised voices when talking about the animals to their parents,, brothers sisters etc, energetic as were moving around a lot/running.
  • Parents –  Protective of their children when they get close to the enclosures or when the animal came up close. Also, when they were walking about and making sure their children didn’t run off or hurt themselves. Parents didn’t seem as enthusiastic as their children but were happy to see their children happy. Some were telling their children about the animals, teaching them different exiting facts.
  • Adults – Some of the older adults were discussing the animals and maybe discussing interesting facts or reading the information signs. When I went to one of the monkey enclosures, an older couple were there discussing the monkey’s and laughing at the monkey’s playful behaviour…as was I!
  • Zoo Staff – very organised and focused on what they were doing, strict when some children/people got too close.
Here is some photographs from last Thursday!




Whilst on this trip, as a group, we got the opportunity to visit the Panda’s! We were only able to see one of them as the other’s were not on show unfortunately. The Panda we got to see was Tian Tian.


Tian Tian is the female Panda and when her name is translated, it means “sweet” or when repeated in chinese, it puts emphasise on the word so it would be translated as “sweetie”. So Cute! The Panda’s haven’t been in the zoo for a year yet so the Zoo staff said that the Panda’s don’t fully settle until they have been there for a year. It was great to see the Panda’s having never seen one so close before! it was a great experience to see Tian Tian and what she is like in her enclosure. When we went inside to one of the large windows outside her enclosure, we learned all about her and other Panda’s and the many interesting facts! When we arrived for the tour, she was sleeping but we were told that Panda’s sleep most of the day so it wasn’t uncommon for her to be asleep. However, she did move around a few times into different sleeping positions! (so there was a lot of pointing and excitement when she did!)

Whilst in the enclosure, I began to observe again so I could get information about different people’s reactions. As it was mostly my class from our module, we were all roughly around the same age however, our lecturers and a couple of older students were also there.  Here is some of my observations:

  • Students ( roughly around the same age…18-22?) –  Taking lots of photographs so this to me, showed the excitement. Crowding round the large windows to get a good look at the Panda, talking to one another about Tian Tian, listening in to the information being told by the zoo staff.
  • Adults – discussing the Panda’s, taking photographs so it suggested they were still as excited to see Tian Tian! Listening to the zoo staff telling everyone the facts about Tian Tian.

After about 10 minutes or so, I noticed that the students that had been previously at the front, had moved to the back so as to let the other students have a look. Whilst they were at the back, I noticed that a few had their phone and were talking with friends so it kind of suggested that they may be discussing the Panda’s or had seen what they wanted to see already so may have been discussing other things.

To get more information on the different Panda’s, here is a link to the Edinburgh Zoo Website: PANDA’S!  I totally recommend the Zoo if you have never been! was lots of fun and is a great day out!

Overall, I found last Thursday really enjoyable! I learned quite a lot and I think I have become much more observant through this experience as this experiment has taught me to be more aware of my surroundings and not just a certain thing. Seeing all the animals was great as well!

Hope you enjoyed this post!


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