4.4 Applied Scientific Research

“EAZA has the high aspiration that every European zoo and aquarium will:

  • make a significant contribution to ethical and highly effective research, particularly in the areas of biodiversity conservation and animal welfare;
  • produce and use excellent science to increase knowledge which improves the quality of decision-making and management of collections, programmes and projects;
  • engage in and foster scientific education, training and benefit sharing.”

– EAZA Research Strategy – EAZA

Through their living collections, zoos and aquariums are uniquely placed to contribute to conservation-related research. Scientific research provides robust evidence of the impact of zoos and enables them to make evidence-based decisions to improve practice across many areas of their work, including animal welfare, visitor engagement and biodiversity conservation. Even if keepers are not directly tasked with conducting scientific research, they should understand how to apply its findings and know how and where to look for robust scientifically produced research to inform their work. Advanced keepers are expected to contribute to original research and share their findings with the wider sector, driving forwards zoo practice. Keepers should develop competencies relating scientific research in two key areas:

  • Importance of Scientific Research: zookeepers understand the variety of disciplines that can contribute to the effective delivery of zoo’s work and can describe the importance of scientific research for keeper decision making.
  • Research Practice: zookeepers demonstrate ability to conduct scientific research and contribute to a wider body of scientific knowledge about zoos and relevant to zoological collections.
Zookeepers working at Competent level can: Zookeepers working at Proficient level can: Zookeepers working at Expert level can:
4.4.1 Importance of Scientific Research Define scientific research based on the EAZA Research Strategy
Describe the basic contents of the EAZA Research Strategy
List some of the scientific disciplines that are relevant to the work of zoos
Explain briefly how scientific research benefits the work of the zoo and how zoo-based research can benefit the wider world
Demonstrate familiarity with the EAZA Research Strategy and briefly describe how it applies to their institution, including (if relevant) familiarity with their own institution’s research policy
Give examples of zoo-based scientific research, explaining the research methods, results and application of each example
Describe relevant examples of how they have used the scientific research of others to develop their own practice as a keeper
Explain the ethical implications and considerations when conducting zoo-based scientific research
4.4.2 Research Practice Actively participate in a zoo-based scientific research project, for example collecting or inputting data
Describe a number of different research methods applicable to collections-based zoo research
Design and implement simple research projects (e.g. with a small number of variables or indicators, using tried and tested research methods, in a well-known area of research
Analyse simple results and summarise findings using simple reporting tools
List publications where relevant research might be published
Design and implement more complex research projects (e.g. with a large number of variables or indicators, using novel experimental design, in a previously unresearched area)
Contribute to the publication of peer-reviewed papers
Present their findings through reports and conference presentations
Describe the impact of their own research in their own institution


  • EAZA Research Standards – EAZA
  • EAZA Research Strategy – EAZA
  • WAZA Conservation Strategy: Committing to Conservation – WAZA

Paths to fulfilment

  • EAZA Academy course ‘Animal Behaviour and Applications to Husbandry’ – EAZA

Last updated: 20/06/2018