NORFOLK, VA 

The Virginia Zoo is unveiling a new technology that will take Zoo visitors on an immersive tour to meet and learn more about its animal residents.

The Zoo’s Augmented Reality Tour is a collaboration with Life Preserve and ECPI University. The tour features 12 stops around the Zoo and provides a learning adventure about the animals, their counterparts in the wild, conservation efforts for the species, and even behind-the-scenes footage.

“We are excited to partner with Life Preserve and ECPI and leverage technology to further enhance our visitor experience,” said Education Manager, Michelle Lewis. “This exciting tour provides guests with an insider’s look into our animals. Photos and videos allow visitors to explore and discover even if the animals cannot be seen on exhibit. Plus, there is a text feature for any guests who may be hard of hearing,” Lewis added.

“I am so excited about working with the Virginia Zoo on this project,” said Gerry White, owner of Life Preserve and Dean of Academic Technology at ECPI University. “By using emerging technologies such as mixed and augmented reality, we can help bridge some of the gaps between nature and the digital environment of the internet. Instead of using technology to escape, now we can connect the real world inside the mobile landscape, allowing visitors to more actively engage with the animals and exhibits in a familiar, fun and exciting way,” White added.

The tour is experienced through the Zappar app. Download the free app onto a phone or mobile device. Then look for the official tour signs and use the app to take a photo which will access audio, video and photos of each species on the tour. At the end of the tour, visitors are invited to complete an exit survey. Mid-Atlantic Dairy Queen LLC is giving away free 12 oz blizzard vouchers for visitors who complete the tour and exit survey (one voucher per family).

For more information on the program, visit virginiazoo.org/virtualtour.

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