AZA believes that contemporary animal management, husbandry, veterinary care and conservation practices should be based in science, and that a commitment to scientific research, both basic and applied, is a trademark of the modern zoological park and aquarium. AZA-accredited-zoos and aquariums have the invaluable opportunity, and are expected to, conduct or facilitate research both inin-situ and ex-situ settings to advance scientific knowledge of the animals in our care and enhance the conservation of wild populations. This knowledge might be achieved by participating in AZA Taxonomic Advisory Group or Species Survival Plan Program sponsored research, conducting original research projects, affiliating with local universities, and/or employing staff with scientific credentials.
Types of Research
Research investigations, whether observational, behavioral, physiological, or genetically based, should have a clear scientific purpose with the reasonable expectation that they will increase our understanding of the species being investigated and may provide results which benefit the health or welfare of animals in wild populations. Many AZA-accredited institutions incorporate superior behavioral training programs into their routine schedules to facilitate sensory, cognitive, and physiological research investigations and these types of programs are strongly encouraged by the AZA.
AZA Accredited zoos and aquariums conduct extensive research, such as studies about a species biology, physiology, or sensory systems, within their institutions. These types of ex situ studies would be difficult if not impossible to conduct with free ranging animals and the information gained from them has direct applications to species conservation. As AZA Animal Care Manuals are produced however important knowledge gaps have been identified and should be addressed. Read more about the research needs of specific taxa.
Methods for Animal Behavior Research
The AZA Conservation Endowment Fund has supported the development of a valuable “Methods for Animal Behavior Research” DVD! Members of the AZABehavior Scientific Advisory Group Steering Committee collaborated to develop a high-quality tutorial that addresses all of the steps needed in the research process as they pertain to behavioral research. Read more about the Methods for Animal Behavior Research DVD.
AZA-accredited institutions are required to have a clearly written research policy that identifies the types of research being conducted, methods used, staff involved, evaluations of the projects, the animals included, and guidelines for the reporting or publication of any findings. Institutions must designate a qualified individual to oversee and direct its research program. If institutions are not able to conduct in-house research investigations, they are strongly encouraged to provide financial, personnel, logistical, and other support for priority research and conservation initiatives identified by Taxonomic Advisory Groups or Species Survival Plan Programs. Read more about AZA Accreditation.