Welcome to the Dartmoor Institute of Animal Science

Dartmoor Zoos 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 are at the beginning of this really 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. We aim to establish a world class research centre in animal cognition, exploring animal consciousness to promote the rights and welfare of animal 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 across the country.

As well as developing our international conservation and education programmes, we aim to establish a world class research centre in animal cognition, exploring animal consciousness to promote the rights and welfare of animals everywhere. But our work is also about regenerating people, using the platform of the zoo to encourage volunteering, training and education, from pre-school to postgraduate and beyond.

Current Research:

Animal Projects:

  • The effects of unpredictable feeding times on stereotypical behaviours of Asian Short Clawed Otters
  • Comparing the difference in sentinel behaviour between a population of hand-reared and parent-reared meerkats (Suricatta suricatta)

Visitor and Community Engagment Projects:

  • Do formal education sessions at DZP successfully impact students understanding of conservation?
  • The impacts of corporate volunteering at Dartmoor Zoo.
  • The Superkids Programme; How the volunteer programme at Dartmoor Zoo influences children who have been excluded from mainstream schools.

In house resources and reports – Here is a selection of conservation and science resources that our staff and research students have put together.

Articles and Publications

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, Jounral of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers. Vol. 44 No. 4