Why Conduct Research At The Zoo?
In a major shift of emphasis, zoos are continuing to evolve from recreational facilities into conservation organizations. This transformation involves changes in almost every aspect of the Zoo, from how animals are housed to the types of programs offered.
In old fashion zoos, animals were often housed alone in sterile cages for easy viewing. This was not usually a very pleasant experience for the animals, and clearly the focus was on the ease for visitors to walk short distances and see many different types of animals.
Modern zoos have made a tremendous shift of emphasis. Animals now live in normal social groups in natural settings - which is better for the animals and more educational for the public.
Rather than capturing animals from the wild, most are bred at a zoo.
Zoos now work to preserve animals and their habitats in their home countries.
Research is essential to these efforts. It is through research that we gather the information needed to make good conservation and management decisions. For example, in order to maintain animals in naturalistic settings, we need to know what their habitat is like in the wild. The list goes on and on, and requires work both at zoos and in the wild. The Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium embraces this new philosophy and has a vigorous conservation and research program.