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  • Writer's pictureGecko Group

Educating Visitors through Hands-On Palm Oil Interactive

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

Click below to watch a video walkthrough of the Palm Oil Touchscreen Interactive

A new exhibit focused on palm oil helps communicate a complicated story, while inspiring action for visitors at the Nashville Zoo.

The newly opened exhibit Tiger Crossroads at the Nashville Zoo presents some of the most pressing threats to tiger populations, including palm oil. Through front-end and focus group evaluations, we knew that many visitors to the Zoo didn’t understand much about palm oil, its prevalence, its production, or its negative impacts on wildlife. The exhibit team knew we would need a way to communicate the many aspects of the palm oil story in a meaningful way that inspired action.

Palm oil is ubiquitous in foods and cleaners; most people use it every day without realizing. Palm oil is also not well regulated: it is difficult to tell where it comes from, and how it is produced. Our challenge became: how do we educate visitors on the problems with palm oil while giving them the tools to become smarter shoppers?

The interpretive development team worked to brainstorm and storyboard what should be included in a touchscreen interactive about palm oil. Communicating the complex, layered issues involved with palm oil production required the creation of a multi-layered interactive experience. We decided to frame the beginning experience as a trip to the grocery store, to help visitors make meaningful connections to their everyday lives.

You can visit Tiger Crossroads now at the Nashville Zoo!

Most people encounter palm oil unknowingly in the grocery aisles, so the team decided to create a shopping experience where people could learn which products might have palm oil in them. All of the items on our grocery shelves contain palm oil in one form or another. Some are made with certified sustainable oil; others are made with oil from unknown origins.

The interactive uses large, easy-to-read graphics to indicate whether or not palm oil is sustainable, according the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). Since membership and status is constantly changing within the RSPO, we created a content management system that can be updated. The Zoo is committed to monitoring the companies and making updates as changes happen.

Some companies have made the commitment to transition to sustainable palm oil, but aren’t 100% sustainable yet. The product page reflects this middle ground.

Some companies were not part of the RSPO, and their product page showed that their palm oil was of unknown origin, and should be avoided. It also offers better choices, by RSPO-member companies.

Once visitors understood how to spot palm oil, and where to look for sustainable palm oil, we wanted to give them more information on why it is so important. The interactive allows visitors to explore the impacts of palm oil expansion on 5 species living in Sumatra.

The slideshows provide concrete examples of how tigers, and other forest species, are negatively impacted by palm oil production.

Visitors can explore slideshows of each species, and learn more about how expansion of palm oil impacts each one.

Compelling images captivate users and help create empathy, and inspire action to help.

Simple, impactful infographics help visitors quickly digest the basics of growing palm oil trees.

The graphics help visitors understand why palm oil can be such an efficient and affordable resource.

The interactive goes one step further to present the need for sustainable palm oil.

The interactive also presents the other side of the coin, presenting the negative impacts palm oil production can have.

Our final experience helps visitors understand the impacts that one person can make, and hopefully encourages each person to make the switch to sustainable palm oil products whenever possible.

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