This International Women’s Day we’re celebrating some of the latest achievements of our conservation scientists and educators.
Understanding Civet Reproduction
Chester Zoo’s endocrinology laboratory – the only one of its kind amongst European zoos – has been bustling as Reproductive Biology Coordinator, Ronnie Cowl and Laboratory Coordinator, Rebecca Mogey attempt to solve questions around civet reproduction.
The Owston’s civet is found in the dwindling forests of Southeast Asia, where its decline due to habitat destruction has led to an IUCN classification of Endangered. Ex-situ breeding programmes have huge potential to save species, but comprehensive knowledge of reproductive processes are essential for a healthy breeding programme.
By studying concentrations of hormone metabolites in faecal samples from civets at Shaldon Zoo, Port Lympne Zoo and Newquay Zoo, the team is hoping to provide crucial advice for the EAZA Ex-Situ Programme. Our goal is to support European collections in sustaining the species in the years to come, while in-situ conservation takes place on the ground.
Call of the Cassowary
Conservation Scientist: Behaviour & Welfare Dr Leah Williams has been working with Parrots & Penguins’ Assistant Manager Zoe Sweetman in researching never before described Southern cassowary behaviours. Together, they are utilising camera technology, bioacoustic recorders and hormone monitoring in our Endocrinology lab to investigate the interactions between the cassowary pair living at the zoo. Understanding the unique courtship rituals and calls will hopefully help us to breed the species, and provide a much-needed boost for the European Ex-Situ Programme.
Education Strategy in Ecuador
Conservation Scientist Becca Biddle [top left] and Conservation Education & Engagement Manager, Nic Buckley [top centre] have returned from Ecuador, working on the Ecuadorian Amazon parrot education project, to develop exciting plans for the future of conservation education in the country.
The Ecuadorian amazon parrot Amazona lilacina has been declining in number over recent decades. Engaging with those who coexist with the bird is crucial for the species’ future. We’ve been working alongside these communities since 2017.
Ongoing evaluation of our education project shows that we have successfully fostered a significant increase in knowledge about the species and its conservation. Becca and Nic are now building on these successes by developing a new education strategy, aimed at engaging with community groups who interact with parrots on a daily basis, including schoolteachers and students, women, farmers, crab-fishers, poachers and parrot owners in order to invite them to play an active role in the species’ conservation.
Here in the UK, Hedgehog Project Coordinator, Hannah Khwaja is setting up a Citizen Science project with the Chester community to understand how the area’s hedgehogs are faring. Protecting our wildlife at home is equally important as protecting species around the globe.
The project is bringing together passionate members of the local community, Chester Zoo volunteers and staff to carry out a mass camera trap survey of gardens and parks across the city and surrounding area. The results will help us to learn more about the exact habitat features needed for hedgehogs to thrive. Armed with this information, we hope to inspire communities to improve their green spaces for hedgehogs and other threatened species. Together we can all help to protect hedgehogs and other UK wildlife.