Evidence based research in Zoos: A case study of Sulawesi crested black macaques

Presented by ANU College of Arts & Social Sciences and ANU College of Health & Medicine

There is a need to adopt an evidence based framework to evaluate the impact of captive housing and husbandry on the behaviour and welfare of animals maintained in zoos. Historically myth and tradition have fueled the actions of the zoo professions; and many other besides. Zoos maintain a myriad and diverse array of species, and collecting empirical data on all of these is a daunting task. But evidence based frameworks recognise that all information if valuable, it is just that some data are more reliable than others. Thus, evidence based frameworks enable transparency with regard to the reliability of the information being used upon which decisions are being made. This talk will focus on research undertaken on Sulawesi crested black macaques to explore the impact of different housing and husbandry variables on their behaviour and welfare, whilst providing an easy to understand introduction to evidence based animal management.

Currently, Vicky is lecturing at the University of Sydney. Since starting work at Drusillas Zoo Park at 16 years, Vicky has worked and studied zoo animal welfare and conservation. For the last 5 years she held the post of Behavioural Biologist at Taronga Conservation Society Australia, leading a team in gathering empirical data to improve animal welfare and improve the efficacy of conservation activities. Prior to this she worked for the Whitley Wildlife Conservation Trust leading the behavioural husbandry and animal welfare workgroup. In this position, she created the MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology run in collaboration with the University of Plymouth. She founded the conservation programme, Selamatkan Yaki, in 2007 to conserve Sulawesi crested black macaques and their habitats; which she still actively contributes to. Much of her work and research has to date focussed on primates; within EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquaria) she chaired the Gibbon Taxon Advisory Group, managed primate studbooks and ran various welfare workshops! Happily, she still contributes to EAZA as Managing Editor of JZAR (Journal for Zoo and Aquarium Research).