ZOO – a park displaying live animals…kept in cages or enclosures for people to come and see, and where they are bred and studied by scientists.

MSN, 2005, Encarta World English Dictionary Online.

The revolutionary concept of the Unzoo was born one evening over dinner when two innovative zoo design consultants were chatting with a colleague about the future of zoos.

John Coe and Ray Mendez began exploring the idea of moving zoos away from their traditional design as a series of enclosures displaying animals for human entertainment. Their vision was for something altogether different—an experience that would immerse human visitors in as close to a natural environment as possible, with animals as the dominant feature.

The Unzoo is a reversal of the traditional concept of a zoo.

Instead of exhibiting animals in traditional enclosures for the benefit of humans, an Unzoo invites us into natural habitats in which cages or barriers are removed or concealed and wild, as well as resident animals, are encouraged to interact with the environment.

An Unzoo creates an environment where animals have more dignity, freedom and self-determination, and where human visitors can experience personal, memorable encounters with wildlife and nature.

UNZOO – a place where the public learns about wild animals, plants and ecosystems through interaction with and immersion in natural habitats.

John C Coe and Ray Mendez, 2005, The Unzoo Alternative