For a lot of species, Dartmoor Zoo’s environment differs greatly from that of their natural, wild habitat.
Even though we do everything we can to mimic their natural habitats, this may influence animals that are adapted to the challenges of the wild. Therefore, a large proportion of the research carried out at Dartmoor Zoo focuses on understanding how the captive environment may influence the animals, and where appropriate, how this influence can be minimized.
For example, some studies investigate whether aspects of animal husbandry could be improves e.g. through diet, habitat, or veterinary care.
Other topics include the effect of visitors on animals and vice versa, evaluation of the effectiveness of education tools and visitor awareness of native species. Animal cognition is a key aim to study for our research team and exploring animal humour and intelligence.
Before any research takes place there are significant legal consideration that must be considered when undertaking research on zoo animals. Our researchers cannot carry out intrusive studies which may cause distress to the animals. Proposals to carry out research within our zoo are carefully reviewed by the collection and assessed in terms of ethics as well as quality of science and the logistics of gathering data.