Un-caging Creativity: Non-Animal Live Entertainment in Zoos

Ben O'Hara

Director and Co-Founder

May 24, 2023

Zoos have long been cherished as important institutions that educate, inspire, and foster a deep connection with the natural world. Over the last 12 months, The Business Creative have worked on a number of exciting projects for zoos within the UK and further afield, producing innovative entertainment concepts and events specifically designed to drive visitor numbers, increase customer satisfaction and create a point of difference from competitor attractions.

Interestingly (and thankfully!) every brief we have received so far has related to non-animal live entertainment and some of the results and feedback has been incredible. While the primary focus of zoos is centred around animal conservation and welfare, non-animal live entertainment and events have become an exciting addition to these institutions in recent years. These engaging productions not only enhance the visitor experience but also serve as valuable platforms for education, conservation awareness, and fundraising.

Non-animal live entertainment in zoos has been gaining popularity as more and more zoos strive to provide unique and engaging experiences for their visitors. These types of shows and performances can include everything from acrobatic displays and light shows to music concerts and theatrical productions. Our recent Halloween experience for Chester Zoo, Luna’s Lost Spell, was a huge hit, seeing guests use augmented reality to unravel the story and discover six powerful, poisonous and venomous species.


We recently created a Wild Science event where guests got to explore five locations throughout the zoo where they would find our ‘wonderlabs’ and learn about the incredible science that helps conservationists prevent extinction across the globe. This was a great example of how non-animal live entertainment allows zoos to offer a wider variety of experiences for visitors, without relying on the exploitation of animals. By using technology or showcasing the talents of human performers, zoos can create exciting and engaging entertainment experiences that appeal to audiences of all ages and interests (we even managed to make elephant poo entertaining!)

Another advantage of non-animal entertainment is that it allows zoos to promote conservation messages and environmental education in a more subtle and engaging way. For example, we recently produced an innovative outdoor puzzle adventure called Expedition: Saving Species. The creative team worked very closely with the team at the zoo, ensuring each and every element of the story and game is factually correct and that we accurately conveyed and reaffirmed the zoo’s conservation and biodiversity aims. Adventurers learn about endangered animals, rainforests, bees, the African Savanna, and even experience a coastal adventure … all whilst being totally immersed in the adventure, operated throughout the entire zoo. Concepts such as these are powerful ways to inspire visitors to care more deeply about conservation issues.

Of course, it is important to note that not all non-animal entertainment is created equal. Like all entertainment experiences, these concepts must be carefully designed to ensure they are safe, respectful, and appropriate for a zoo environment. Our immersive audio walks are a great example of how guests can be totally immersed in a whole other world – without the worry of upsetting a single member of the animal collection. Zoos should work with experienced and reputable entertainment specialists who understand the unique challenges of performing in a zoo setting and who are committed to animal welfare and conservation efforts.

So it’s clear that non-animal live entertainment and events have become integral components of the offering of zoos worldwide, playing a significant role in their mission to educate, inspire, and conserve wildlife. By combining entertainment with education, these events and experiences can broaden audience engagement, foster emotional connections, raise funds for conservation efforts, and enhance visitor experiences. Whether through music concerts, theatrical performances, augmented reality trails, or artistic exhibitions, zoos are successfully leveraging non-animal entertainment to create a greater impact in wildlife conservation and advocate for a more sustainable future.

If you’re interested in talking to us about our zoo-friendly concepts, or whether you’d like us to create something entirely bespoke for your attractions, get in touch. We’d love to take a walk on the wild side with you!

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