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WWT Slimbridge wins Gold for Research at the National Zoo and Aquarium Awards 2019

Posted on 21 Jun 2019

WWT Slimbridge has been recognised for their work in research at the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) annual awards ceremony.

The winners of this year’s prestigious competition were announced at a special gala dinner event hosted by Drayton Manor Theme Park on Thursday 13 June. WWT Slimbridge was recognised for their contributions to research for the evaluation of flamingo nocturnal activity.

The research project started in 2016 when Slimbridge Wetland Centre installed trail cameras around the greater flamingo enclosure to look at the flock's activity over a 24 hour timescale. There is some literature on wild flamingos that shows them to remain active overnight and Slimbridge wanted to see if this was true for their collection birds. The large flock size and natural-style enclosures for the WWT birds makes them an excellent study population, and Slimbridge showed that their greater flamingos match the wild literature- with lots of foraging occurring in the late evening and very early morning. Slimbridge continued this research on the lesser flamingos in 2018 and on the Andean flamingos when they were fostering their Chilean chicks last summer. These birds too have a diverse behaviour pattern after dark, and these data helped in developing how Slimbridge manage flamingos both at their site and for other collections too so that they can monitor flamingo behaviour day and night.

Research Associate Dr Paul Rose explained: "It's really great that WWT have won this Gold Award for research on the flamingos because it shows how good our birds are for answering questions that are important to both our understanding of animal behaviour and our development of animal care. Conducting research really adds value to why we keep flamingos and it shows our visitors that WWT is really at the heart of current science. It's great to be recognised by BIAZA for the quality and impact of our research contributions- I hope the flamingos are pleased too!"

Dr Kirsten Pullen, CEO of BIAZA, said, “Our annual awards ceremony recognises excellence in the work being carried out by our zoos and aquariums as well as our associate members. Our community is committed to conservation, education, research, and having the highest levels of animal welfare and this is highlighted by the incredibly high standard of award submissions this year.”