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Perth Zoo actively encourages and offers opportunities for research projects to be conducted on its premises (including undergraduate, post-graduate and post-doctoral research projects).

Numbers undertaken each year varies but can be up to 25 in progress simultaneously including as many as 12 PhD projects.

Some of the projects and collaborations undertaken at the Zoo are provided below to demonstrate the range of topics studied across Perth Zoo’s four research programs.

Animal Biology

Objectives

The objectives of the Animal Biology Program are to investigate

  • nutrition, health and disease
  • reproductive biology and genetics
  • conservation medicine
  • behaviour

as they relate to species management.

Examples

  • Development and improvement of clinical tools for rehabilitating endangered black cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus spp.) back to the wild.
  • Investigating the capacity of captive Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) to discriminate between familiar and unfamiliar people using visual, auditory and olfactory cues.

Wildlife Ecology

 Objectives

The key objectives of the Wildlife Ecology Program are centred around

  • the Zoo’s Urban Renewal fauna re-introduction program;
  • collaborative captive-breeding for release projects run in conjunction with the Department of Parks and Wildlife, Australian Wildlife Conservancy and other stakeholders; and
  • black cockatoo fieldwork and conservation medicine (which is a collaborative program involving Parks and Wildlife and Murdoch University).

Examples

  • Hematologic and plasma biochemical reference values for three species of Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus spp).
  • Reproductive parameters and behaviour of short-beaked echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus acanthion) at Perth Zoo.
  • Paternity, sperm storage and sperm competition in the critically endangered Western Swamp Tortoise.
  • Zoo facilitated urban renewal of native fauna species in a rapidly expanding capital city.
  • Ecology and flight characteristics of ghost bats (Macroderma gigas): Pre-requisites for in-situ reintroduction from captivity.
  • The effect of behaviour and physiology on translocation success for Western Australia marsupials.
  • Investigation of the effectiveness of Black Rat (Rattus rattus) control at Perth Zoo.
  • Re-introduction of captive bred Bush Stone-curlews (Burhinus grallarius) from Caversham Wildlife Park and Perth Zoo to Woodland Reserve, Whiteman Park.

Sustainable Environment

Objectives

The objectives of the Sustainable Environment Program are to investigate

  • water, power, and gas consumption
  • waste management practices within the Zoo

with a view to minimising the use of finite resources and Perth Zoo’s impact on our environment.

Examples

  • Fit for purpose: an examination of water quality and re-use at Perth Zoo.
  • Analysis of hydraulic performance and its effect on the water quality of the Main Lake at Perth Zoo.
  • Thermal regulation of zoo enclosures using phase change materials.

Environmental Communication and Socio-ecology

Objectives

The objective of the Environment Communication and Socio-Ecology Program is to investigate:

  • community attitudes and perceptions of the Zoo
  • animal welfare issues
  • ways of improving our education, interpretation, communication activities.

By doing this we will be better able to deliver social improvements by connecting people with wildlife and Perth Zoo.

Examples

  • Establishing connections between animals and humans through experiential and educational interiors at the Zoo.
  • The role of aesthetics and captions in a wildlife conservation photographic exhibition.
  • The role of anthropomorphised flagship species in motivating zoo visitor participation in Tiwest Nightstalk.
  • Impact of biodiversity conservation and conservation messages on school children.
  • Optimising collaboration between secondary schools and informal science providers: A stakeholder alignment perspective.
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