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Research for Conservation

CIRCLE's mission is to use scientific evidence to guide biodiversity conservation, animal welfare and public understanding of the natural world

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CIRCLE helps Flamingo Land to David Bellamy Gold award

Award-winning conservation
in the UK

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CIRCLE helps Flamingo Land to BIAZA conservation award

Award-winning conservation in Africa

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Starting careers in conservation

CIRCLE offers practical experience and mentoring for early career environmental scientists, educators, and managers

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CIRCLE research shows that on average, tropical forest carbon measurements have been incorrect by 50 tonnes per hectare

Improving techniques for surveying the environment

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Biodiversity planning

CIRCLE research is exploring
innovative ways to monitor
conservation success

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Designing great homes for animals

CIRCLE research has led to the design of
innovative new zoo exhibits

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Shaping the role of zoos

CIRCLE research is assessing the worldwide role of zoos in biodiversity conservation

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Inspiring interest in conservation

CIRCLE research into zoo environmental education aims to encourage public action

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Acacias may be in danger

CIRCLE research finds that national parks are not well placed to protect this iconic plant group


CIRCLE is a University of York Environment Department collaboration with Flamingo Land, the UK’s most visited zoo. The aim of CIRCLE is to carry out ground-breaking research that will contribute to the conservation of wild animals and places, and to disseminate the information in a manner that is accessible, interesting and fun.

Research by CIRCLE staff includes methods for conserving biodiversity and delivering environmental education both in the UK and abroad. We also carry out research into zoo exhibit design for animal welfare, and into the worldwide role of zoos for conservation and science. CIRCLE also offers courses in statistical methods and highly competitive annual internships, which provide early-career researchers with practical research experience, in the design, execution, presentation and reporting of scientific work.

CIRCLE’s mission is to use scientific evidence to guide biodiversity conservation, animal welfare and public understanding of the natural world.


-  Exploring methods for monitoring and conserving biodiversity, and for encouraging everyone to think more about the environment

-  Investigating ways to assess and improve animal welfare

-  Assessing the role of zoos in scientific research, conservation, animal welfare, and learning


- Informing policymakers and conservation managers on all research findings to encourage conservation action

- Contributing information to education programmes for UK and African people and schools

- Liaising with industry and zoos to improve financial and logistical support for the environment

- Raising awareness among the general public to improve interest and to encourage action


-  Offering highly competitive annual research internships, providing early-career scientists with training and experience in research design, execution, analysis, and reporting

-  Providing African villagers with the knowledge and techniques to live sustainably and to benefit financially from biodiversity conservation

-  Training African fieldworkers in ecological and socio-economic methods for monitoring conservation success

-  Advising and training conservation managers on monitoring and understanding ecosystem health and sustainable livelihoods

-  Active encouragement of increasing zoo support for field conservation, through guidance documents, presentations and mentoring

Theme 1: Biodiversity Conservation

(a)    Development of standard procedure for development of biodiversity action plans in zoological gardens (article in review)

(b)   Description of new species of Polyceratocarpus tree (first draft of article complete)

(c)    Description of new species of Acacia tree (data collection underway)

(d)   Development of indicators of conservation success in tropical forest (data collection underway)

(e)   Development of indicators of native conservation success on zoological garden land (beginning September 2013)

(f)     Trial of methods for forest restoration (data collection near complete)

(g)    Experiment on effective methods for reducing bird-strikes on windows (data collection underway)

Theme 2: Environmental Education

(a)    Determination of factors affecting animal sign use by zoo visitors (data collection complete; writing underway)

(b)   Quantification of zoo visitor learning levels from animal signs (data collection underway)

(c)    Evaluation of effectiveness of formal versus informal learning methods for short- and long-term knowledge exchange, and for encouraging environmental action (beginning September 2013)

Theme 3: The Role of Zoos

(a)    Assessment of the quantity and subject of WAZA member scientific publications (data collection underway)

(b)   Quantification of the financial and practical contribution of BIAZA zoos to field conservation (data collection complete; analysis underway)

Theme 4: Animal Welfare

(a)    Determination of the optimal exhibit design for Humboldt penguins (article in review)

(b)   Determination of the optimal exhibit design for flamingos (data collection underway)

(c)    Determination of the optimal exhibit design in scimitar-horned oryx (data collection underway)

Director/Editor: Siraphurin Nimmahnratanakul
Camera: Ed Gammie
Assistant Camera: Liam Bracey 
Sound Recordist: Rachael Sherlock 
Special Thanks: Megan McCrea

CIRCLE on Facebook

For all our latest CIRCLE news see our Facebook page

Schools for Forests logo

Schools for Forests

Schools, colleges, individuals and companies can all join our unique competition and education scheme, with a chance to make history by naming a newly described tropical forest tree!


Udzungwa Forest Project

CIRCLE research contributes to conservation efforts in Africa through administration of the Udzungwa Forest Project (UFP), a Flamingo Land conservation initiative in Tanzania.


Join our CIRCLE of Friends

Find out more about the opportunities to become part of CIRCLE.


CIRCLE – Zoo Database

A comprehensive review of zoo research is coming soon!

Our Awards: