Research is one of our main goals. We see it as our mission to facilitate and initiate (behavioural) research to increase the knowledge of animals and their natural environment. Sometimes our biologists are interested in answers to very specific questions, where the research results influence decisions or further improve the living conditions of the animals. For some animal species, not much is known about certain behaviours, and specific research is done on that subject. In many cases, Burgers' Zoo plays a pioneering role and the information collected is of scientific importance to our fellow zoos and aquariums. We are not only committed to research within our park but in the rest of the world as well.
The emphasis at Burgers’ Zoo is on research that can promote the protection of species in the wild, in line with EAZA’s policy. In Burgers’ Ocean, for example, a lot of scientific research has been carried out: twenty-one scientific articles have been published to date, seven chapters in peer review books and one book on coral husbandry. These include publications on fishing operations; there is still very little literature to be found on this topic, and every little bit helps. In scientific research, a distinction is made between general research and applied research.
In applied research, researchers try to find the answer to a specific problem or question that is directly related to the accommodation and care in the zoo in question. This might include, for example, "How does a certain enrichment programme work?", "How does a certain animal species use its enclosure? “or "How does the social behaviour of an animal species change in a new enclosure?". This research is practical in nature and essential for the housing and management of species in zoos.
General research is carried out to gather knowledge that is also applicable to wildlife. General research on zoo animals often helps gain knowledge that cannot or is very difficult to obtain in the wild, such as gestation times, movement patterns and the development of young animals. General research helps to understand the behaviour of wildlife better so that these species can be better protected in the wild.
In addition to carrying out research, Burgers’ Zoo also facilitates research and support scientists in carrying out their tasks. The decades of research into the chimpanzee colony under the leadership of Professor Emeritus Jan van Hooff, the uncle of the current director, is well-known. One of the researchers who became world-famous for his findings on the Arnhem chimpanzees is Frans de Waal. He was the first in the world to describe the phenomenon of reconciliation after conflicts in monkeys! More recent examples of research conducted at Burgers’ Zoo:
We encourage behavioural research in animals everywhere, and to that end, Burgers' Zoo established the Lucie Burgers Foundation. This foundation provides research projects with financial support to promote research in ecology and the natural behaviour of animals. Nature reserves can use this knowledge to protect and preserve the habitat of endangered species better and more effectively.