When choosing how to light any type of public business, there are several factors that need to be taken into consideration. With zoo lighting, the factors become more complicated since there are live animals under your care. Below are a few suggestions in creating a safe environment for animals as well as giving your visitors an enjoyable experience.
When you're dealing with living creatures, the heat that is generated from a lighting solution needs to be a top priority that needs to be addressed. Certain light fixtures give off high levels of heat, which can be uncomfortable or even harmful to animals. For some animals such as turtles, snakes, or other animals that are used to heat, have the ability to adjust to the heat based on their natural conditioning. However, you really want the temperature to come primarily from heat lamps and not your lighting solution. The main reason for this is because any lighting solution that gives off high levels of heat tend to be less efficient in terms of energy consumption and light production. So, you want to stay way from incandescent, metal halide, or any other lighting solution that produces more heat than light output. Compact fluorescent and LED solutions are far better choices for animals, as well as keeping utility costs as low as possible.
You want to try and create an environment that is similar to the one animals are accustomed to. This is very critical for several reasons. If animals are accustomed to certain environmental factors and they are no longer present, it can cause a negative impact on their overall health. Maintaining happy and healthy animals is not only your responsibility as the business owner of a zoo, the focus primarily needs to be on animal rights, which translates into having animals that are healthy. Patrons will recognize this and know that your putting the health of your animals above profits, creating a much better overall experience. So, if you have animals that are used to low light or high light environments, that needs to be taken into consideration. For example, certain types of animals require high levels of natural sunlight every day for their health and well-being. If artificial light is being used, you need to ensure that it mimics the same levels of sunlight that the animal is used to getting out in the wild, which will allow them to safely adjust to their new habitat.
For customers, being able to clearly see the animals is very important. Lets face it, thats why they come to the zoo. A large number of animals that have to be kept behind glass such as tigers, lions, bears, and many other that could potentially be harmful, therefore glass should not impede the overall view. Glares caused by lighting fixtures can negatively affect the experience of guest when viewing animals through one way glass. So, its important to position fixtures so that light is always cascading from the ceiling above or project up from the floor level, and not placed in the center of the glass itself.
Really the best way to light any zoo area is to use as much natural light as possible. If you can incorporate natural light into the animal viewing areas, it will be much healthier for the animals and provide a more enjoyable experience for your patrons. Even if you can't get all your illumination from natural lighting, you still need to factor it into the lighting plan, so your zoo needs less artificial lighting as a whole.