Featured Image Credit: Ocean Wise
By Sarah Sharkey
Modern zoos and aquariums are extremely fun to visit because everyone loves seeing a collection of beautiful and exotic animals. However, our modern zoos and aquariums are no longer just fun menageries of animals to look at. These institutions also contribute to the scientific community through research and publications of their findings.
Over the past 20 years, 5,175 papers were published by 228 zoos and aquariums. Thousands of papers that will contribute to the building body of knowledge about each species that we care about. All of the zoos and aquariums that published papers were members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The AZA requires research and conservation activities of all of its members.
Eric Larson, a freshwater ecologist, said, “This paper is the first quantification of research productivity of zoos and aquariums. It shows a trend of substantial and increasing publishing through time. Zoos and aquariums are definitely players in scientific research.”
The trend seems to be that older institutions do more research, which could stem from a variety of factors. These institutions likely have more time to build funding that can sustain research and have had more time to build on their own knowledge before starting a research project. It also seemed that institutions that had research identified in their mission statement were more likely to produce a large quantity of research.
All of these papers represent a valuable addition to a body of knowledge about conservation and individual species. It adds to the value that the institutions already bring to the conservation community through their extensive outreach activities.
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