Man looking at a young Leadbeater's Possum in a sack.

Research and publications

At Zoos Victoria, thorough research informs every activity and decision we make in our conservation work and our animal care.

The value of knowledge

At Zoos Victoria, thorough research informs every activity and decision we make in our conservation work and our animal care.

Our research also reveals the ways we can improve what we're doing, from breeding and recovery, to education programs and campaigns.

Our focus is on applied research that leads to tangible outcomes.

Captive breeding of threatened species and re-introduction

Zoos Victoria is committed to promoting the recovery of 27 local threatened species that are on the brink of extinction. For many of the species, we have active conservation breeding programs. Research projects on these species vary from developing and refining captive breeding methods to improving the success of releases to the wild.

Animal health and wellbeing

We are world-leaders in animal health and welfare with a range of projects currently in play covering everything from training to make health checks less stressful to designing new enrichment programs to improve the welfare of the animals in our care.

Reproductive management and collection sustainability

We are continually improving the reproductive and breeding methods we use to ensure the collections at all three of our zoos remain sustainable.

Mitigation of key threatening processes

Captive breeding programs are only one part of the solution. Reducing the threats pushing species towards extinction is another critical part of the puzzle.

Community conservation and visitor engagement

We have a growing social research program to help us connect our visitors with nature and encourage wildlife-friendly behaviours that help protect our native wildlife.  The team also conducts a number of projects aimed at helping us to increase the effectiveness of our behavioural change campaigns, visitor experiences and education goals.

We continue to develop specific projects to address gaps in our knowledge; we are currently engaged in over 70 research projects across the biological and social sciences.

The Wildlife Conservation and Science team co-ordinates most research projects, including research conducted at our properties, in the field, and in partnership with many other organisations.

Zoos Victoria welcomes research proposals from external organisations such as universities, government agencies and other zoos. We evaluate all proposals to ensure that they align with our research and organisational priorities.

Zoos Victoria's Animal Ethics Committee (AEC)

Our AEC is made up of a range of representatives as required by the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes. Zoos Victoria's AEC meets every two months to assess and review the welfare and ethical considerations of research proposals where applicable.

Publications

Read the latest published research and outcomes from our team and partners.

Young Helmeted Honeyeater sitting in a tree

Collaborative research submissions

We invite members of the scientific community to propose future research projects that align with our priority research themes.

Zoos Victoria welcomes collaborative research proposals. These could involve the use of Zoos Victoria resources, active collaboration with Zoos Victoria staff or independent research at one of Zoos Victoria's three properties: Melbourne Zoo, Werribee Open Range Zoo or Healesville Sanctuary.

Considerations for prospective researchers

In the first instance, researchers seeking to collaborate with Zoos Victoria should contact the Senior Research Manager (Biological Science), Wildlife Conservation and Science for biological research or the Senior Social Science Research Manager, Wildlife Conservation and Science for social science research (contact details below), to outline the research proposal. If the project is likely to be in line with Zoos Victoria's research priority areas, researchers will be encouraged to submit a research application.

All research proposals will also require consultation with, and approval by, the Senior Property Managers of the relevant Zoos Victoria property. Proposals with animal welfare considerations also require approval by the Zoos Victoria Animal Ethics Committee. These approvals will be arrange by the Senior Research Managers.  

The Biological Science Research Application Form or Social Science Research Application Form can be download here.

Animal Ethics Committee review

Zoos Victoria is licensed by the Department of Primary Industries for the use of animals in research and teaching under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986. Part of the requirement of this license is that all proposed research involving animals is reviewed and approved by an Animal Ethics Committee (AEC).

The Zoos Victoria AEC is made up of a range of representatives as required by the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes who meet on a bi-monthly basis to assess and review the ethical considerations of each proposal.

Any proposals involving the use of animals must justify to the AEC that alternatives are not available and that the proposed work has relevant scientific value. Consideration must be given to the three 'Rs':

Replacement - techniques that replace the use of animals must be sought and used where possible

Reduction - each project must use no more than the minimum number of animals necessary

Refinement - projects should actively investigate alternative techniques and procedures that are designed to avoid pain and distress in animals

Further information is available from the

Other things to note

All forms need to be submitted electronically in MS Word (.doc) format to the relevant person (details listed below) and must be fully signed. 

All researchers must read and agree to comply with the Zoos Victoria Code of Conduct for Scientific Research Practice (PDF 21 KB) and Zoos Victoria's Occupational Health and Safety procedures. Scientific procedures using animals must be carried out in accordance with the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 and Regulations 2008, and the current version of the Australian Code of Practice for the Care and Use of Animals for Scientific Purposes.

Zoos Victoria may withdraw from a project at any time if resources or circumstances change.

Submission forms and dates

There are six rounds of applications considered every year. In order for your research proposal to be considered in a timely manner, please ensure all application forms and supporting documents are submitted by the following deadlines for 2019. Applicants will be informed of the outcome within 6 weeks of their application.

2019 research/ethics application dates:
  • Friday 18 January 2019
  • Friday 29 March 2019
  • Friday 17 May 2019
  • Friday 19 July 2019
  • Friday 20 September 2019
  • Friday 15 November 2019

 

Contact details

Senior Research Manager (Biological Science), Wildlife Conservation & Science – Dr Michael Magrath
Email: research@zoo.org.au
Phone: +61-3 9340 2752

Senior Social Science Research Manager, Wildlife Conservation & Science – Emily McLeod
Email: socialresearch@zoo.org.au
Phone: +61-3 9340 2739

Support Officer, Wildlife Conservation & Science – Stephanie Jenkins
Email: aec@zoo.org.au
Phone:  +61-3 9340 2723

Mail: Research at Wildlife Conservation and Science
Zoos Victoria
PO Box 74
Parkville VIC 3052