Theme 4: Animal Welfare

Target: To influence animal welfare, research will determine the influence of zoo enclosures  and husbandry on animal behaviour, health, nutrition and breeding, from which findings will be used to effect change in zoo animal management and exhibit design.

Determining the optimal conditions required for animals kept in zoos requires extensive knowledge of their breeding, behaviour and veterinary care. CIRCLE is developing methods for the evaluation and design of zoo exhibits. An example of this research has helped to design Flamingo Land’s Penguin Coast. Flamingo Land is among a global network of zoos that are breeding this species to maintain a viable captive population as a safeguard to threats to wild populations in South America. Through a review of the UK’s penguin exhibits, CIRCLE research has determined the key enclosure design features for encouraging space-use, exercise and natural behaviour. Thanks to a huge pool and large colony size, the Flamingo Land penguins are now socialising and swimming more than ever before. This zoo exhibit design research continues for other species, including flamingos, scimitar-horned oryx, and more. CIRCLE researchers are also undertaking a thorough review of the diets fed to every species of animal at Flamingo Land, making comparisons to wild diets where available.

Current research:

  • Determining optimal exhibit design for Humboldt penguins;
  • Determination of the optimal exhibit design for flamingos;
  • Determination of the optimal exhibit design for the extinct-in-the-wild scimitar-horned oryx;

Determination of the effectiveness of Do Not Feed signs for discouraging public feeding of meerkats.