Horticulture in Zoos


In conjunction with the Plant Working Group of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA), this was an opportunity to find out more about the role of plants and horticulturists in zoos – the unique challenges posed and the behind-the-scenes work.

There were three presentations:

  • Use of plants in animal enclosure design and theming (Sven Seiffert, Curator of Plants, Zoological Society of London)
  • Fodder and browse provision for zoo animals (Dave Lewis, Team Leader of Botanics, Paignton Zoo)
  • Plant and habitat conservation by zoos (Phil Esseen, Curator of Botany & Horticulture, Chester Zoo)

The presentations demonstrated the scale and scope of work that zoos undertake in the plant world – from often extensive behind-the-scenes stands of trees, shrubs and grassland managed to provide forage for animals, to nature reserves and conservation work undertaken to protect at risk plants and habitats. There was also the more noticeable work undertaken to plant up zoo enclosures, creating as realistic a habitat for the animals as possible using non-toxic and hardy plants.

Listen again to the presentations via the links to the recordings below.

Useful links from the session:


Webinar recordings

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Landscaping animal exhibits:

Fodder provision for zoo animals:

Plant conservation in zoos: