Understanding how animals interact with each other and their environment is key to protecting their future – and improving how zoos and aquariums pass on their knowledge
As with humans, research with individuals is leading to great progress in the fields of veterinary medicine and nutrition, allowing zoos and aquariums to provide their animals with the very latest care for their physical needs. But it’s not just about physical health: EAZA researchers are looking very carefully at how to reflect as fully as possible the psychological and behavioural needs of individual animals, and are expanding our understanding of how they think and interact. The findings of researchers in zoos and in the field can also help conservationists provide better care for rescued or sick animals.
Animals rarely live in complete isolation from other members of their species or other species. It’s vital for both EAZA zoos and aquariums, and field conservationists to understand how animals choose a mate and reproduce, how they behave with each other and how we can best care for a population of animals both in individual zoos and across our network. Whether it’s molecular genetics to ensure that animal populations don’t lose their adaptability, demography studies or a thorough knowledge of social structures, population research will help us to plan a future that includes a wide diversity of healthy animals, both in zoos and in the wild.
If conservation is to have any success, we can’t just place animals in a familiar habitat and expect them to survive. Scientists are still exploring the physical effects that a species can have on its environment, and vice versa. EAZA aims to be at the forefront of research that demonstrates why animals are important to our planet’s habitats and ecosystems so that we can contribute strongly to debates on the future of human sustainability; field and socio-economic surveys help us not only to understand the animals and their habitat, but also how humans fit into the equation.
EAZA research doesn’t just cover animals and their habitats; studies are also being carried out on how we are passing on the knowledge of nature that zoos and aquariums have built up over the years and the desire to protect it. Researchers are looking at everything from methods of learning through to altering zoo layouts to ensure that our visitors leave more committed to the protection of nature.
The Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research (JZAR) provides a forum for rapid publication of novel, peer-reviewed research papers, reviews, technical reports and evidence-based case studies. Through their living collections, zoos and aquariums are uniquely placed to contribute to conservation-related research. Research categories covered by JZAR include studies in pure and applied biological sciences (e.g. behaviour, genetics, medicine, nutrition, population management and reproduction), in situ conservation research (e.g. socio-economic and field surveys) and research aimed at developing other roles of zoos and aquariums (e.g. visitor learning and marketing surveys).
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Articles in the latest issue (Vol 6, No 2) include:
Read the full journal here, you can also download the articles (separately) in pdf format.