Lincolnshire Wildlife Park recognises the importance of encouraging, supporting and conducting research that improves captive animal husbandry and management along with informing animal management staff of the benefits of being able to offer correct environments and nutrition to captive animals.
The World Zoo Conservation Strategy highlights research as a major role for modern zoos and by doing so, shows the importance of conservation programmes and contributes to the body of scientific knowledge about animals and their natural habitats; this is why research is one of the primary objectives of LWP.
The Parks research includes both animal-based and visitor studies working in partnership with the University of Lincoln one of the UK’s leading academic facilities.
Animal-based studies can focus on behaviour, welfare, nutrition, husbandry, environmental enrichment, ecology, reproduction and conservation. All research undertaken within the Park is non-invasive and mostly conducted through observation of the animals in their captive environment.
Research studies assist the mission of Lincolnshire Wildlife Park in a number of ways:
- Helping to develop successful animal management practices by assessing the effect of factors such as enclosure design, diet and social grouping on animals.
- Benefiting the conservation of species and habitats by improving the success of captive breeding programmes, such as the CPCP.
- Promoting conservation through education by assessing visitor attitudes and perceptions.
LWP as a unique facility, is dedicated to assisting all animals within its care and shall promote ethical research programs in order to maintain a better life for all captive animals.
If a human being falls ill and visits a hospital, a whole host of experts will be on hand to treat the patient.
The laboratory will know the normal ratio of red blood cells to white blood cells, will know the normal levels of sodium or calcium in the plasma and will even know what microbes or parasites to look for. The physician will know what medicines to prescribe and what outcome to expect.
But what happens when a parrot falls ill, or maybe a lemur, an illness for one creature may have a very different effect on a similar creature, Why?
The more research we do, the more we can help, whatever the problem!
Animal Behaviours in Captivity
Why do some animals breed so readily in captivity, while others seem so reticent?
- Is it food related
- Environment design
- Social Understanding or something else?
A good zoo will listen to its animals, observe what is happening and act on any collected data carrying out the necessary changes it dictates.It will work alongside its veterinary and university advisor’s and share knowledge with other zoos, which is critical if these lessons are to be learnt.
Good zoos share the information they gather, some employ their own full time veterinary staff, both to treat sick animals and to study ways of maintaining animals in a healthy state.
Behavioural research is particularly suited to zoos as a positive method of animal-human interaction, with an aim to discover how ‘happy’ an animal is.
One way to measure how ‘happy’ zoo animals are is to study and compare their behaviour in the wild with their behaviour in the zoo. If the animals spend much of the same time doing similar things, then we can presume we are on our way to providing the best a captive environment can offer.