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Beyond the Walls: Applied Field Research for the Twenty-First-Century Public Aquarium and Zoo

Beyond the Walls: Applied Field Research for the Twenty-First-Century Public Aquarium and Zoo

Chapter:
(p.286) Chapter Twenty-Three Beyond the Walls: Applied Field Research for the Twenty-First-Century Public Aquarium and Zoo
Source:
The Ark and Beyond
Author(s):
Charles R. Knapp
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226538631.003.0024

As zoological organizations evolve in the twenty-first century to address the biodiversity extinction crisis as well as proactively demonstrate relevance in a changing public opinion landscape, their conservation portfolios are expanding. An increasingly popular approach among zoological organizations for addressing these issues more directly is the support of in-situ conservation research teams designed to detect, diagnose, and halt population declines in the wild. The distinct nature of zoological organizations relative to academic institutions and traditional environmental nonprofits, however, presents opportunities and challenges that must be considered when developing conservation research platforms. Using as a case study the relatively recent development and expansion of an in-situ research department at Shedd Aquarium, this chapter discusses the evolution of strategic planning including program selection criteria, evaluation methods, staffing considerations, and organizational adaption. If managed correctly, incorporating in-situ research into the many conservation opportunities afforded to aquariums and zoos is another mechanism for ensuring that the counterparts of the species in their collections remain safe in the wild while demonstrating the relevance of such organizations for contributing to scientific research and protecting biodiversity.

Keywords:   aquarium, biodiversity, conservation, research, Shedd Aquarium, zoo

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