CIRCLE has provided me with the invaluable opportunity to get involved with exciting new research in a zoo environment. Flamingo Land, a very popular UK zoo provides endless opportunities for studying a variety of areas from exotic animal behaviour to native species conservation. The collaboration of zoo and university makes CIRCLE unique, so therefore provided me with extensive support and great scope for developing practical and research skills. In addition, the nature of the internship setting, allowed me to gain experience in further activities such as zookeeping, fundraising and school education.
My research work involves trying to reduce the number of visitors that engage in prohibited feeding on Flamingo Land’s meerkats through the use of different do not feed signs. Observational studies are carried out daily to investgate whether instructional or explanatory signage, if any, are more effective at reducing the number of visitors feeding zoo animals than no signage present at all. Preventing public feeding is important as providing zoo animals with the wrong foods can cause health problems as well as discouraging the exhibition of naturalistic behaviours.