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Research projects & publications

Research is one of the primary objectives of Dartmoor Zoological Society.

As a charity, we aim to continually increase our research potential and output in view of the growing need to increase our knowledge necessary for understanding and undertaking conservation tasks both in the zoo and out in the field. Our main research goals are focused on improving animal welfare, better understanding in animal cognition and the development of effective educational resources.

Project titles completed in 2019/20 academic year include:

  • The visitor effect, does it affect active behaviour
  • The effects of unpredictable feeding times on stereotypical behaviours of Asian Short Clawed Otters
  • Visitor perceptions to Dartmoor Zoo during the seasons
  • Effective environmental enrichment on the behaviour of captive great grey owl
  • Biodiversity action plan for Dartmoor Zoo
  • Comparing the effectiveness of environmental enrichment on cats
  • Effects on temperature on the behaviour of amur tigers in captivity
  • Observing behaviours of Iberian wolves in comparison to that of grey wolves
  • Signal intervention on pacing behaviour in captive Jaguar
  • The effects of yage in comparison to cat nip as a form of enrichment
  • Enclosure use in captive Iberian Wolves (Canis lupus signatus): Analysis of spatial use and the associated behaviours between Iberian Wolves at Dartmoor Zoo.
  • Implementation of a sustainability strategy at Dartmoor Zoo
  • The effects of Animal Assisted Therapy on cortisol levels in humans suffering with mental health
  • The effect of visitor numbers and noise levels on big cat behaviour
  • The effects of live and artificial plants on reptile behaviour
  • How a feeding schedule can affect food anticipatory behaviour in the Jaguar
  • The impact of herbs and spices on the welfare of animals in zoo collections
  • Behaviour and Enclosure use of Tapir at Dartmoor Zoo
  • Developing a thermal preference score to inform ectotherm enclosure design
  • The effects of keeper personality on captive felids
  • Public Perceptions towards different styles of zoo enclosures
  • Review: From Tug of War to Tug of Words

The Dartmoor Zoo research and animal departments produce a priority project list each year which is then taken on by our placement research students.

Successfully completed studies are submitted for publication within peer-reviewed journals, such as:

Jonas, C; Bowkett, A & Smith, R (2017) Promoting natural feeding behaviours in primates in captivity. Management of Captive Animals, Global evidence for the effects of interventions. https://www.conservationevidence.com/synopsis/index

De Lange, R (2017) Building a Burrow for burrowing owls, A. cunicularia. RATEL, Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers. Vol. 44 No. 4

McAvoy, G; Jonas, C (2019) Enclosure use in captive Iberian Wolves (Canis lupus signatus): Analysis of spatial use and the associated behaviours between Iberian Wolves at Dartmoor Zoo. RATEL, Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers.

Jonas, C (2019) Review: From Tug of War to Tug of Words. RATEL, Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers.

Crichton. S; Walker, M (2020) Biodiversity Assessment using Pit Fall Traps. RATEL, Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers.