4.7 Marketing and Communication

One of the most important pillars of successful zoo performance is marketing and communication. Most aspects of a zoo’s performance depend on successful marketing. The overall marketing umbrella covers advertising, public relations, promotions (in order to form a positive image and reputation for the zoo) and sales (the number of purchased tickets by zoo visitors). Marketing is a process by which a zoo is introduced and promoted to potential visitors and interested parties. Without marketing and communication, a zoo may offer the best services and have a large animal collection, but no potential visitors would know about it. Without marketing, visitors would not be attracted to the zoo.  Conversely, a zoo with a well-managed animal collection is essential for successful marketing.

Marketing and communication forms the image and reputation of a zoo. All zoo staff, including zookeepers play a very important role in maintaining the image and reputation of a zoo. The role of a zookeeper means that they will be interacting with visitors and interested parties during their daily work, which can be through planned and unplanned interactions, so understanding the best way to promote their institution in a positive and professional way is vital. Within this topic there are four competencies:

  • Reputation of Zoos: zookeepers understand the importance of reputation, and work to maintain a positive reputation for their institution when communicating with visitors.
  • Market Research and Feedback: zookeepers know how market research is used, including audience segmentation and visitor motivations, and how to collect feedback.
  • Working with Donors and Supporters: zookeepers know the importance of supporters (including public support), what they want from the zoo, how to engage them.
  • Media Interaction: zookeepers understand how their institution uses social media and traditional media, and different mediums of advertising zoos.
Zookeepers working at Competent level can: Zookeepers working at Proficient level can: Zookeepers working at Expert level can:
4.7.1 Reputation of Zoos Explain the importance of creating a good zoo image and reputation
Describe why customer service is important in their role
Demonstrate familiarity with anti-zoo organisations and their goals and actions against zoos
Describe fully their institution’s rules for visitor behaviour and enforce them with appropriate support
Maintain created zoo image and reputation through professional work
Demonstrate suitable ethical code of behaviour with anti-zoo organisations
Deal with difficult issues (e.g. visitor conflicts and complaints)
Positively and proactively engage with colleagues, peers, visitors, and other interested parties to justify the existence of zoos and the work carried out by their institution
4.7.2 Market Research and Feedback Explain the importance of market research
List the major different audience groups who come to their zoo (for example, families, adults, school parties, foreign tourists)
Explain why visitors are important for zoos, in relation to education and behaviour change
Describe how the different knowledge and interests that visitors have when they come to the zoo can affect how we educate and communicate with them
List a variety of different audience types, based on their demographics, motivations and past experiences
Demonstrate familiarity with materials distributed by their institution’s marketing staff
Summarise this information for colleagues
(After zookeeper talks) compile data on what image visitors have of their institution
Analyse whether data collected matches the expected responses
Demonstrate how education messages and communication techniques should be adapted to meet the needs and motivations of different visitor groupings
Clearly link different education methodologies and messages with different audience motivations
Create and implement a plan to make relevant changes according to visitor feedback
4.7.3 Working with Donors and Supporters Explain the importance of donors and stakeholders for a zoo
List a variety of different interested parties (e.g. companies, non-governmental organisations, zoo partners, anti-zoo organisations, artists, potential volunteers, etc.)
List sponsorship procedures and direct interested parties to take appropriate action
Explain to interested parties how to become a zoo donor
Identify what interested parties want from the zoo
Explain the value of being a zoo donor to potential sponsors
Interpret information about sponsorship to engage interested parties
4.7.4 Media Interaction Describe the importance of media for publicly promoting their institution
Explain what public image their institution wants to create through its use of media tools
List a variety of (internal and external) media tools
Comply with their organisation’s media policy and follow crisis communication protocols
Communicate professionally with media (as appropriate)
Apply professional guidelines in their use of social media (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) to promote their institution (e.g. evaluate suitability of visual content, upload only good quality photos and briefly explain visual content to deliver an educational message)
Maintain created zoo image through professional work and appearance, when communicating with media (TV/radio)
Create appropriate media content with guidance from marketing staff
Act as an ambassador for their institution and promote the profession of zookeeper in various media channels


  • Internal institutional sponsorship procedures
  • Internal guidelines on how to communicate with media and on social platforms (Communication & Marketing Department)
  • The Modern Zoo: Foundations for Management and Development – EAZA

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Last updated: 25/04/2018