The 20th BIAZA Research Conference was recently hosted by Paignton Zoo, Living Coasts and South Devon College. The very first conference was held at Paignton Zoo, so it was fitting that it should return for its 20-year anniversary.

BIAZA is the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums; the professional body representing the best zoos and aquariums in Britain and Ireland. More than 1,200 research projects are supported by BIAZA members, ranging from training projects for undergraduate students to published work from postgraduates. 

The anniversary conference programme included a series of talks from invited speakers celebrating the past and the future of zoo research.  It all started with a ‘Pimms and Penguins’ evening icebreaker at Living Coasts, plus a workshop for early career scientists called ‘Working your Networks’.  

Due to the large number of delegates (132, when previous conferences have been under 100), the main conference was based at South Devon College, but zoo tours and an anniversary dinner at Paignton Zoo were included. Topics stretched from the experiences, attitudes and behaviours of guests and the way people and animals interact; through exhibit design, enclosure use and environmental enrichment; to animal behaviour, diets and nutrition.

Director of Conservation and Education Dr Amy Plowman said: “It was the best attended BIAZA Research Conference ever. The quality of presentations, both talks and posters, was extremely high. Keynote and invited speakers gave a good long-term overview and offered interesting thoughts about the future.

Highlights for me included the workshop by the Royal Society of Biology. I’d also like to thank RSB and NHBS for their prize donations.”

Quotes Brilliant, loved every minute of it especially the free activities throughout the day. Quotes