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Conservation & research

Conservation and Research Strategy

Our Vision is to protect threatened species and enable people to help wildlife thrive.

Our Mission is to conserve wildlife, promote wellbeing and educate future generations by inspiring people to  be more engaged with nature.

Our strategy is to conserve and preserve species threatened with extinction though our captive breeding and release programmes. This will be supported by our research, which will build a bank of scientific knowledge in in-situ and ex-situ conservation. Our educators will pass on this knowledge to our guests and train the next generation to become future passionate conservationists for our planet.

We will always strive to be the best we can possibly be, sharing our expertise, experience and knowledge to help deal with the issues our planet is facing. The goals we have set out will help us achieve our ambitions, under three strategic priorities

  • Help threatened wildlife survive and thrive
  • Support education and field conservation through active participation and research
  • Sustain our future


Click here for our conservation policy.

Strategic Aims

Prioritise Species Survival

We want to continue to build habitats to enhance mixed species exhibits and increase species richness on site. This will provide a more interactive and dynamic experience for our animals and for our guest’s education around conservation. We want to develop our collection so we hold 70% threatened to critically endangered animals on site as part of international programmes. We will breed, rehabilitate and release native wildlife as part of national programmes, such as the Scottish wildcats, hedgehogs and hazel dormouse.

Improve infrastructure to allow for collection change and growth

We want to continue the transformation of Dartmoor Zoo to provide the best visitor experience we can, showcasing the diversity of our wildlife and providing the highest standard of welfare to the animals in our care.

Develop a vet room and off-show space

To develop our collection plan, we want to make sure we have the ability to care for them on site if they require veterinary intervention.

To be members of EAZA

We successfully gained IUCN membership in 2022, which has increased our conservation credibility. We are already members of BIAZA and WAZA and in the future, we would like to explore being EAZA members so we can participate in more European breeding programmes.

Delivering conservation education for all

We reach around 11,000 students a year with our conservation education programmes. Going forwards we want to utilise digital media platforms to reach worldwide audiences to encourage more interaction with the zoo’s work.

Conservation education for social change

Our ultimate aim is for all guests to take home a conservation message and continue to engage with the zoo and environment post visit.

Strengthen and enhance evidence for the conservation value of zoos

We have a strong history of research and have always aimed to publish the results of our scientific work. We have had success with publishing, presented at conferences and have suitably trained staff members who can supervise students from universities.

Providing opportunities for the alternative provision of learning outside the classroom

We already deliver a very successful alternative provision schools programme through the Superkids project and through the partnership with Plymouth Argyle. Our aim is to expand the reach of this project with children before they reach alternative provision.

Optimise training, staffing and professional development to promote conservation messages

We currently deliver many Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) days to corporate companies on site. Our ambition is for every group to leave with a conservation message alongside an exceptional day for guests.

To produce an affordable and clean energy plan

The zoo produces on average around 5.5 tonnes of carbon a year. We aim to be carbon neutral by 2035.

Improve fundraising and financial sustainability

We have had good success in small grant funding, partnerships and charity events. To continue we need to secure funding for capital projects to improve the facilities at the zoo as well as continuing to develop relationships with sponsors to increase regular giving.

To develop an education hub

We have a big ambition when funds allow to build a dedicated education hub. A multi-purpose space designed for children’s learning of multiple areas including pre-school.

Promote good health and wellbeing for guests, staff, volunteers, and students

We want to lead by example. We work in an amazing place where we attract and retain staff. This has helped by implementing flexible working contracts. We already help our visitors and they return to visit or convert to memberships. We will always strive to make sure we provide the best environment for people.

Collaborate to reach conservation goals

We want to engage in conservation out in the field to allow us to raise awareness of the fight for habitat sustainability and wildlife survival, whilst informing guests of our participation within the projects.

Dartmoor Institute of Animal Science

Dartmoor Zoo’s research department is dedicated to encouraging, supporting and conducting research that helps improve captive animal management. Our aim is to be a leading animal cognition research centre.

We’re at the beginning of this exciting journey after building the Dartmoor Institute of Animal Science (DIAS) POD, in partnership with Plymouth University.  

Research is one of the key objectives for Dartmoor Zoo and is highlighted as a major role for modern zoos to be a part of by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA). 

We aim to establish a world class research centre in animal cognition, exploring animal consciousness to promote the rights and welfare of animals everywhere.  

Our work however is also about regenerating people, using the platform of the zoo to encourage volunteering, training, health, and education.  

Dartmoor Zoo’s research includes both animal-based and visitor studies. Each year we have a priority list of research that we work towards, with the help of our research students from Universities across the country.

Our current research priorities are animal nutrition, nocturnal behaviour, the impact of nature on human health and wellbeing and improving animal husbandry and welfare.

Conservation projects

Dartmoor Zoo is a charity devoted to the worldwide conservation of animals and their habitats.

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Research projects & publications

Our researchers undertake a variety of studies that range from creating new enrichment programmes for our animals to developing innovative educational resources.

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Research students

Dartmoor Zoo welcomes external researchers, including students, who wish to conduct research at the zoo.

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The British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) is the professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in the UK and Ireland.

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Cheetah Conservation


Here at DZS, we work hard to live by our sustainable ethos.

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Biodiversity report

Dartmoor Zoo plays an important role in native biodiversity conservation.

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