Elephants in the room: an exploratory conceptual study of facilities management in zoological facilities

HAP Smit, RC Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


Purpose – This paper aims to develop an understanding of the potential for application of facilities management concepts and principles in the context of the “zoo sector”. Design/methodology/approach – The paper is a conceptual one and begins with a narrative designed to provide sufficient background to understanding key issues relevant to the practice of facilities management in zoological and similar institutions, including the implications of conservational/scientific and display imperatives of zoological facilities for facilities management. We then consider how these issues can be worked through in the context of four broad dimensions of facilities management: strategies for the management of stakeholder behaviour (non-human animals, personnel and visitors); building and environmental design (including space usage); safety, security and health; and “miscellaneous” services. The paper concludes by providing a provisional framework for further research into facilities management in the zoo sector. Findings – As a conceptual paper, there are no empirical findings. Conceptually, the paper offers an initial and simple framework for interpreting the possible application of facilities management in zoological and related facilities. Originality/value – In a search of the two principal journals in the field of facilities management, nothing could be found of direct relevance to the management of facilities in zoological and similar organizations. This paper is thus a singular contribution to the field. Conceptually, the authors attribute neglect of the topic to the distinctive traditions in the study of facilities management, which, at the risk of caricature, emphasise either the pre-eminence of a building and building services approach to facilities management, or an approach which is almost exclusively focused on the “human” dimensions to the discipline.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)412-423
Number of pages12
Issue number5-6
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Conservational/scientific and display imperatives of zoological facilities
  • Facilities management
  • Management framework
  • Zoo sector
  • Zoological gardens and parks

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