Wildlife Conservation

Scientific Papers

Zoo Conservation & Research

The contributions of EAZA zoos and aquariums to peer-reviewed scientific research (Hvilsom et al., 2020)

May 04, 2020

Abstract: Zoos have tremendous potential and responsibility to conduct research, which is a key part of the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums’s (EAZA) Code of Ethics. Yet, the contributions of EAZA institutions to the peer-reviewed literature has never been quantified. By conducting an exhaustive Web of Science (WoS) database search, we quantified the peer-reviewed research contribution from 293 EAZA Members in the period 1998-2018. A total of 3345 peer-reviewed manuscripts were published in the 21-year period. The research output increased over time, with more than a threefold increase during the last decade. More than two thirds of all EAZA Member institutions published during the time period, but contributions were markedly skewed, with only seven institutions responsible for more than 100 publications each, thus contributing 37 % of the total output. The top three research areas were zoology, veterinary sciences, and environmental sciences and ecology, with the two former attributing to twice as many publications as the latter.

Image: Copenhagen Zoo

Book Chapter: Zoo engagement in pangolin conservation: contributions, opportunities, challenges, and the way forward (Parker & Luz, 2020)

January 08, 2020

Abstract: This chapter discusses contributions that zoos have made to pangolin conservation, opportunities for increased zoo engagement in pangolin conservation, and the challenges and risks that impede those opportunities. Discussions include what defines a “conservation zoo” and the contributions of international zoo networks to wildlife conservation. Case studies of zoo-supported conservation programs that secured species from extinction are provided. Challenges, such as unscrupulous entities that launder wildlife through legal mechanisms, and conflict among stakeholders are examined. Next steps for pangolin conservation planning are recommended, such as following the IUCN Species Survival Commission Guidelines on the Use of Ex situ Management for Species Conservation. Applying these Guidelines under the framework of the One Plan Approach can ensure decisions about ex situ management activities with pangolins are made collectively by all of the important stakeholders to support conservation goals. Suggested ways that zoos can make a positive difference for pangolins are offered.

Photo credit: ZSL

What’s new from the zoo? An analysis of ten years of zoo-themed research output (Rose et al., 2019)

November 04, 2019

Abstract: The modern zoo’s roles command empirical enquiry to determine the effectiveness of zoos locally and globally. Ten years ago, published work identified the need for empirical research on a diverse range of species beyond charismatic zoo megafauna. We review zoo-based research published in the decade since this original recommendation. We collectively evaluate zoo-themed research papers from those working in zoos and those external to zoos but studying zoo-housed animals. By systematically searching Web of Science© for zoo-based research and performing inductive content analysis to code year, journal, study animal’s taxonomic classification, and research aims and outputs we evaluate trends in zoo-themed research, contrasted with trends in species holding. Significantly more birds and fish are kept compared to mammals, reptiles and amphibians, but mammals are consistently the primary research focus. Whilst output generally rises, only for birds is a steady increase in publications apparent. Husbandry evaluation is a major aim/output, but papers on pure biology, cognition and health also feature. Most publications lead to “specific advancement of knowledge” including validation of methodologies. We show that: (1) trends in species holdings are unrelated to trends in publication; (2) zoo-themed research makes meaningful contributions to science; (3) zoo researchers should diversify their aim/output categories and chosen study species to close the persisting research gaps that we have identified. Finally, we discuss our findings in the context of evident species biases within research outputs across the broader fields of zoology, conservation and ecology.

The Need for a Convergence of Agricultural/Laboratory and Zoo-based Approaches to Animal Welfare (Ward & Hosey, 2019)

October 19, 2019

Abstract: Advances in animal welfare science have led to a high number of studies published for farm, laboratory and zoo animals, with a huge breadth of innovative topic areas and methodologies. This paper investigates the different approaches used to undertake welfare research in farm, laboratory and zoo animals due to the variety of constraints that each group brings. We also set recommendations to how groups can support each other in moving forwards to reduce animal suffering and promote a life worth living, a goal that all parties aim to achieve. We propose that researchers develop more collaborations across species, in particular to focus on the applied component of animal welfare and utilizing positive welfare indicators; facilitate knowledge transfer and share good practice worldwide; and accept small n based studies that can still be scientifically robust and provide individual-based steps into advances in our knowledge. Ultimately, we need to be progressing animal welfare science to a point beyond legislative needs, and ensure that “high animal welfare” becomes an additional mission statement for all animal-based industries.

Photo credit: Reid Park Zoo

Research on reproduction is essential for captive breeding of endangered carnivore species (Jewgenow et al. 2016)

June 08, 2019

Abstract: Assisted reproductive technology (ART) has great potential for conservation, but its successful application in captive breeding programmes of endangered species is often compromised by limited background on species' biology. Although carnivore species benefit from knowledge obtained in domesticated species (dogs, cats and ferrets), the focus of research is different. In pet animals, research in reproduction has mainly been focused on ovarian function and contraception, although substantial progress has also been made in the field of in vitro embryo production, transgenic embryos and cloning to aid relevant medical models. In endangered species, however, research should focus on characterizing reproductive traits (cyclicity and seasonality) to unravel species‐specific endocrine principles of reproduction physiology. Based on this knowledge, it is crucial to enhance the ability to manipulate female reproductive cycles, especially those of embryo recipients. Furthermore, research conducted on molecular and cellular mechanisms of gamete and embryo development, as well as on cryopreservation protocols of gametes and embryos, is required for successful implementation of advanced ART to wild carnivores. This review will provide a summary on the state of the art with focus on ART contributing to conservation breeding of endangered carnivores.

Photo credit: Lynx ex-situ

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