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04 21/04/2017

Chester Zoo unites with the University of Oxford to deliver world class conservation science

The UK’s number one zoo has teamed up with the world’s number one university to address key challenges in the conservation of endangered species.

Chester Zoo and the University of Oxford’s famous Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) have joined forces with the shared aim of delivering high-impact conservation research to address the global decline of biodiversity.

The new partnership is designed to investigate major challenges in conservation by combining some of the international projects that Chester Zoo coordinate with cutting-edge scientific research.

It is the zoo’s largest formal partnership with a university in its 85 year history.

Human wildlife conflict elephants in Assam, India

Chester Zoo, which attracts almost 1.9 million visitors per year, leads and supports conservation projects around the world, which range from managing endangered bird populations in Mauritius, to studying Andean bear ecology in Bolivia and mitigating human-elephant conflict in India.

The University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) is an internationally renowned leader in applied conservation research, comprising top graduate and postdoctoral researchers from around the world.

Over the next seven years this new partnership will see up to 10 doctoral and postdoctoral researchers placed into Chester’s conservation projects around the world. It is hoped that this collaboration will provide new research to assist conservationists in developing innovative approaches to tackle global challenges such as human-wildlife conflict, livelihoods and sustainable development, and monitoring of populations of endangered species in the wild.

The initial cohort of scientists under this structure will study the effects of conflict mitigation efforts on tigers in the Terai of Nepal, understand the behaviour of crop-raiding Asian elephants in northeast India, and investigate the varied interactions between bears and people in Latin America.

Dr Alexandra Zimmermann, Head of Conservation Science at Chester Zoo, said: 

The aim of both Chester Zoo and WildCRU is to deliver top-quality conservation research projects that are directly relevant to urgent global conservation goals. This exciting new collaboration allows us to do this in a way that will maximise the impact of our joint conservation efforts.

Andean bear - Chester Zoo
The interaction between threatened Andean bears and local communities in Latin America will be the subject of one of the topics of research conducted by Chester Zoo and The University of Oxford’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, as part of a major new collaboration.

Professor David Macdonald CBE, Director of WildCRU, said:  

This partnership provides an excellent platform for our graduate and postdoctoral scientists to design their research around the real needs of conservation projects on the ground, helping to find solutions to some of the challenges we are facing in wildlife conservation the world over.

This non-exclusive collaboration comes at a critical time in both Chester Zoo’s and WildCRU’s missions to help solve some of the most urgent wildlife conservation challenges world-wide. 

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