UK zoos and aquariums have long had a close relationship with science. We are in a unique position to offer scientists the opportunity to carry out research on the biology of animals and plants, which cannot be undertaken as effectively in the wild.

Many UK zoo animals are part of European breeding programmes (EEPs) that aim to preserve threatened species and create self-sustained populations. The importance of these programmes has led to a great number of scientific studies, dedicated to understanding the reproductive biology and needs of our animals.

It is our aim to collaborate with universities, and other scientific bodies, to allow PhD, MSc and Post-Doctoral research to be undertaken for the improvement of the lives of both captive and wild elephants.

Base Camp has been purpose built with some features that are specifically designed to facilitate research – such as the high-level observational deck allowing an uninterrupted view over the outdoor habitat. Research students are also able to use the keeper gantry, to view every area inside the house.



Kate's New Home

Louise, a BSc student from Myerscough College, kept a close eye on Kate’s behaviour both before and after her big house move. This allowed us to closely monitor how she was settling in to her new surroundings and monitor any behaviours that emerged as a result of her new home.

The Mammoth Move

Erica, an MSc student from Nottingham Trent University, used CCTV footage of our elephants, both before and after their mammoth move, alongside observational research, to monitor the social dynamics, movement and behaviours that occurred following the move.


Empirical (adjective) - Based on, concerned with, or verifiable by observation or experience rather than theory or pure logic.

We are continuously improving the care we provide for our elephants, through careful research and observation. Regular research not only informs the wider scientific industry, but also enables us to base our work on evidence and data, rather than theory and opinion.


Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV) is a deadly virus which affects young elephants typically around 2-8 years old, striking elephants both in the wild and in zoos. Currently there is no vaccination against the virus and drug treatment is effective in only around 20% - 30% of cases. Part of our work here at Project Elephant will include taking regular blood samples from our herd to be sent to research labs around the country, who are working to find a vaccine for this deadly virus.