The shifting strategic focus of zoos from sites of recreation and entertainment to predominantly visitor conservation education entails a change in the design and delivery of conservation interpretation strategies. As the primary conveyers of conservation messages, zoo guides are expected to display appropriate emotional expression (emotional labour) to establish a connection between the object of interpretation, the conservation message and the visitor. The emotional display responses of guides to role demands may not be consistent with zoo conservation-based objectives beyond delivering a service-based positive visitor experience. We examine organisational expectations for emotional display in directing the delivery of conservation-based visitor outcomes. Findings from 21 semi-structured interviews with managers and guides at an open-range zoo indicate that sources and types of display rules for visitor entertainment remain more clearly communicated than those related to conservation. Theoretical and managerial implications for the delivery of conservation messages are discussed.