Conservation & Research

Millions of people have visited Dudley Zoo since it opened in 1937. They remember our amazing animals, medieval castle and quirky Tectons but know little of the vital behind-the-scenes conservation projects that put DZC on the world stage . . .


Humboldt penguin (Spheniscus humboldti):   Housed at DZC since its opening in 1937, but is now one of the rarest species of penguin and listed as vulnerable to extinction by the World Conservation Union due to depletion of food stocks and climate changes. DZC has one of the largest parent reared groups in the UK, started via a breeding programme in 1991. Since then there have been 183 hatchings and 45 birds have been sent to found or join breeding groups at 10 other UK sites.

Asiatic lion (Panthera leo persicus):   This species once roamed from Southern Europe to Japan. Now found only in the Gir Forest, India, its population numbers just 200. We have kept this sub-species since 1995 and five cubs born at DZC are now at collections across Europe where they have helped found more breeding groups.

Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae):   DZC’s first pair of Sumatran tigers arrived in 1994/5 and by 2006 had produced eight cubs which have helped found breeding groups across Europe and the UK.

Breeding programmes are carefully managed to ensure populations remain long-term viable.
Managing such schemes requires accurate record keeping which allows studbook keepers (species co-ordinators) to make breeding and movement recommendations.

DZC is constantly involved in research projects linked to universities, colleges and other academic institutions.  It is important that breeding projects are linked to programmes in the wild and that zoos also support in-situ conservation. At DZC our in-situ support has been achieved in several ways, including awareness raising, direct funding, fundraising, research and education.


Wildcats Conservation Alliance:   (formerly 21st Century Tiger), providing support for grass roots projects working with all sub-species of tigers.

ZGAP Yellow Breasted Capuchin Project:   Annually we help fund an ongoing project that is monitoring the current population and aids the funding of local Brazilian university students and government agencies to become conservationists of this charismatic species. DZC has made a minimum 5 year support commitment.

AEECL:   This Madagascan project was set up originally to help preserve the Blue-eyed black Lemur, a Critically Endangered species of Lemur that live on the very northern peninsula of Madagascar. This funding has aided the establishment of a new designated national park to help protect the lemurs and other species within the area and an ecotourism lodge has been set up.

We also fund 18 teachers in local schools who teach students good environmental and conservation practices and give them skills as tourist guides. Providing employment and education for local communities is a highly cost effective and productive way to promote the importance of local wildlife conservation to a local population who historically relied on bushmeat as part of their diet. DZC has made a minimum 5 year support commitment.

Red Panda Network:   This charity who work in the hills of Nepal. This project teaches local communities the value of having the Red Panda on its doorstep and the income it can bring through the tourist trade. Currently they are looking to extend the protected area to help preserve higher individual numbers of the species and to train and employ more local people as guardians of this wonderful animal. DZC has made a minimum 5 year support commitment.

Selamatkan Yaki:   Translated from Indonesian as ‘Save the Sulawesi Crested Black Macaque’ this project is focused on the protection of this Critically Endangered species. In response to the wild population decreasing by around 90% we are helping to support this charity through providing funds and the time of one of our own Keepers as the UK regional coordinator. The charity takes a multitude of approaches including research, education of local people, improvement of eco-tourism infrastructure and sustainable development to help turn the tide on the profile of this critically endangered species. We also part fund a member of staff to assist this project in the wild. DZC has made a minimum 5 year support commitment.

Arctictis Binturong Bearcat study programme:   Promotion, information gathering and education. With population counting in Asia, and using radio-tracking of some individuals in their natural environment. Naturalistic observations of characteristics and behaviour in their natural habitat. Raise local’s awareness about sustainable development and protection of an animal that is representative of their country or region. DZC has made a minimum 5 year support commitment. (Started funding in 2018)

Kanahau Utila Research and Conservation Facility, Honduras:   Environmental Education program to raise awareness on the endemic endangered Utila spiny-tailed iguana and organize field trips to the mangroves with the kids from the schools of the island. These field trips have proved to be successful in interesting the children to their environment and their fauna. (Started funding in 2018)

Silent forest campaign:   This is the first EAZA conservation campaign focused primarily on birds, particularly songbirds of Southeast Asia. Songbirds have become the subject of an excessive and strong culturally rooted consumption for trade, singing competitions, pet trade, export traditional medicine and food. (Started funding in 2018)

The Lowland Tapir Conservation Initiative, (LTCI):   Is a nation-wide, long-term research and conservation effort led by Brazilian conservationist Dr. Patrícia Medici. The overall goal of the LTCI is to have tapir research and conservation programs being carried out in all four Brazilian biomes where lowland tapirs are found – ATLANTIC FOREST, PANTANAL, CERRADO and AMAZON – and biome-based Tapir Action Plans developed and implemented. The LTCI uses tapirs as ambassadors for the conservation of the biomes where the species occurs, catalyzing habitat conservation, environmental education, communication, training and capacity building, and scientific tourism initiatives. (Started funding in 2018)

Centre For Orangutan & Chimpanzee Conservation, Florida USA:   Providing a permanent sanctuary for orangutans and chimpanzees who have been rescued or retired from the entertainment industry, from research, or from the exotic pet trade. (Only in 2018)

The Jane Goodall Institute UK, Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary:   Located just on the outskirts of Freetown, in the Western Area Peninsula National Park, Sierra Leone. Initially established to enforce wildlife laws and rescue and rehabilitate orphaned chimpanzees, Tacugama has grown into a diverse conservation organization. Caring for close to 100 chimpanzees on-site, Tacugama is also actively engaged offsite in community outreach, wildlife field research, environmental sustainability, conservation education and alternative livelihoods programs. (Started funding in 2018)

Orang Foundation UK:   Saving orangutans by protecting their tropical forest habitat, working with local communities and promoting research and education. (Started funding in 2018)

World Parrot Trust:     The WPT has brought together global wildlife conservation and welfare experts to implement effective programs to protect parrots. It has aided 70 species in 43 countries since its launch in 1989. See below for highlights on some of these projects. (Started funding in 2018)

Giraffe Conservation Foundation:   Currently involved in giraffe conservation initiatives in 15 African countries. The involvement ranges from programme implementation to providing technical support to partners, from conservation monitoring to hands-on conservation actions, from direct to indirect support. Committed to enhancing conservation capacity and instilling a way of life that embraces conservation principles in Africa.

Wild Camel Protection Foundation:   Support for the wild camel breeding centre in Mongolia. This support has been continued with a five year commitment to sponsor a wild camel calf at the breeding Centre. DZC has made a minimum 5 year support commitment.

Gelada:   In situ research and conservation project in Ethiopia. The project is headed by Prof. Elisabetta Palagi from University Pisa, her research proposal is around two gelada populations which are currently not “under observation” by any scientists and out of the range of Siemen National Park or the Guassa area. The study is on behavioural observations of geladas in this region to find differences in behaviour between populations in a more natural / undisturbed range compared to a habitat with noticeable human impact. Knowledge from behavioural studies of geladas is zoos will be applied. DZC has made a minimum 5 year support commitment. (Started funding in 2018)

Snow Leopard Trust:   Aims to better understand the endangered snow leopard, and to protect the cat in partnership with the communities that share its habitat. DZC has made a minimum 5 year support commitment. (Started funding regularly in 2018)

The Birmingham and Black Country Bat group (Brumbats):   Urban bat conservation, that record, promotes and protects bats in the local area. Running events and training courses, surveys and more, we are working hard to raise awareness of bat conservation issues in our region, and to promote biological recording. (Started funding in 2018)

World Land Trust:   Pioneered the Buy an Acre concept of buying land for conservation, starting in 1989, and has, since then, funded ground-breaking habitat protection for more than 30 years, with an impressive track record of achievements. WLT and project partners have been instrumental in the purchase and protection of more than 770,000 acres of tropical forest and other threatened habitats, and together ensure that more than four million acres of land is managed under active protection worldwide. Here is a summary of just a few of the Trust’s major activities and achievements. (Not funded in 2018)

Sphenisco project:   Aims to prevent the extinction of the Humboldt Penguins in Chile and Peru. Their primary focus is the protection of breeding colonies and the surrounding marine areas.

For Sphenisco, it is important to get the local population on board with nature and species protection. This includes educating local businesses and people with how they can best support the conservation of penguins in their everyday lives. They also encourage and financially support in-situ research projects that support Humboldt penguin rescue and rehabilitation in Chile. (Not funded in 2018)


Species Management:   Continue to administer the Black lemur EEP population management programme by providing the human resources and financial support. Also to assist the structure within EAZA to ensure successful population management to ensure the survival of some of our most endangered species.

EAZA & BIAZA Campaigns:   The Zoo promotes awareness of their various conservation campaigns; we host fundraising activities on site and contribute financially support. With the aid of information and resources provided by these organisations we are able to make a real and tangible difference for the protection of biodiversity in many parts of the world and can be the catalyst for important regulatory change, in particular relating to the negative impacts of the bushmeat trade on apes.

Overseas commitments:   The privilege of housing around 200 species from all across the world brings with it the responsibility and desire to help preserve this amazing plethora of species from across the globe. We work closely with multiple conservation charities across the world in order to preserve the habitats for many of the species we house.

Native Species Projects:   We have always had a strong focus with preserving native wildlife. Being within the industrial heartland of the UK it is important that we educate our visitors about the wildlife that still lives alongside us and we can help support it. In the past we have been part of award winning projects such as the Fen Raft Spider project, the Ladybird spider and even a Great Crested Newt translocation on site. Now we are constantly monitoring the zoo site with specialist equipment such as camera traps and bat detectors to better understand the species that live alongside the exotic species here at the zoo. Our current ongoing projects include:

Urban Bat Project:   Partnered with local expert and volunteer group as well as multiple local council groups, we are helping to record the bats living within the Birmingham and Black Country, in particular those using the vast cave network within the area. To date we have found evidence to suggest 9 species of bat are using the zoo and neighbouring sites as they sit on top of a wealth of cave networks dating back hundreds of years including the very rare Lesser-horseshoe bat.

Data collected in 2018 show the Stores Cavern Mine is being used as a roost for at least 4 species:

Daubenton’s bat                   (Myotis daubentonii)

Natterer’s bat                       (Myotis nattereri)

Lesser Horseshoe bat         (Rhinolophus hipposideros)

Myotis genus (Another member of) However due to the similarity in calls in the Myotis genus many of these have had to be recorded at Genus level rather than Species meaning it could be any of other 4 Myotis species known to reside within Britain.

Data collected in 2018 show the Big Ben mine is being used by at least 9 species:

Daubenton’s bat                   (Myotis daubentonii)                           Caught and audio detected at the cavern

Whiskered bat                      (Myotis mystacinus)                             Caught and audio detected at the cavern

Natterer’s bat                       (Myotis nattereri)                                 Caught and audio detected at the cavern

Common Pipistrelle             (Pipistrellus pipistrellus)                      Caught and audio detected at the cavern

Brown Long-eared bat        (Plecotus auritus)                                 Caught and audio detected at the cavern

Leisler’s bat                           (Nyctalus leisleri)                                  Audio detected at the cavern

Noctule bat                           (Nyctalus noctula)                                Audio detected at the cavern

Soprano Pipistrelle              (Plecotus auritus)                                 Audio detected at the cavern

Lesser Horseshoe Bat         (Rhinolophus hipposideros)               Audio detected at the cavern

Brandt’s bat                           (Myotis brandtii) Historical records of the bat from 1997 (Bob Stebbing’s report)

BTO and the Brewood Bird Ringers:   Bird ringing has a mixed response by the general public; however we are now using our site to demonstrate the importance of such a monitoring technique and to build interest of our visitors as they will be able to see a usually elusive species close up.

Dudley Zoo and Castle Botanical Census:   Working with a local expert from the Birmingham and Black Country Botanical group we have been surveying the site to create a census of all the species present here. This is an extremely important census; due to the historical use of the grounds which have been inhabited since 800AD there are many plants that were used traditionally that cannot be found anywhere else in the West Midlands area.

Dudley Zoo Bird Census:   Working closely with West Midlands Bird Club and with the interest of multiple staff members we monitor the skies in order to create a better idea of the bird species calling the Zoo home. With this information we can better target species of importance and concentrate conservation efforts on those particular species through feeding, nests box and nesting materials or even better land use techniques. While doing this we also support the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch each year by providing a stand and information for our visitors to take part.

Native Species & Volunteer Groups (13)

  • B’ham and Black Country Amphibian and Reptile Group – Partaking in Adder surveys at Kinver edge (looking to help them conduct Great Crested Newt surveys at Fens Pools and potentially use them to help train other BIAZA collections to gain Great Crested Newt licences)
  • B’ham and Black Country Botanical group (Mike Poulton) – Botanical surveys of the site as well as advice on improving our site for native and rare limestone rock plants.
  • Brewood Ringers – We have had large interest from this bird ringing group to set up an event on site to show people what bird ringing is like and how it is helpful for tracking bird numbers and movement. Although this isn’t something we have done yet it would be highly beneficial to have better access to Castle Hill woods for this.
  • British Trust Ornithology
  • Brumbats – Survey emergent bats from Big Ben Cavern. We have currently recorded 7 species either through identification in hand or through sound recordings.
  • Dudley College – have built and donated 25 bat boxes for us to put around site and wish to come and install them themselves.
  • Dudley Council – we have helped conduct work in Peggys Meadow with the hope to work closer with them in the future on voluntary schemes s well as to gain browse for our animals. They can also provide training for Great Crested Newts and conduct Bat Surveys.
  • Eco Records – all records we collect through surveying go to them and they have given us permission to use their name and advertise our surveying with them.
  • International Centre for Birds of Prey – Donated two Kestrel boxes to us so we can be involved in the Kestrel box scheme which has been rolled out across BIAZA collections.
  • RSPB – we were involved in the Big Garden Bird watch and have plans to have a Big Wild Sleep Out here at the zoo. They have also offered to run workshops during the Big Bug Bonanza week and potentially run a Big Zoo Birdwatch which I would like to roll out to other BIAZA collections too.
  • Senior Citizen enterprise group – built and donated 20 bird boxes, 11 feeders, 10 bat boxes, a small mammal inkpad trap and the potential for more in the future.
  • University of Wolverhampton – Small mammal trapping masters project on site.
  • West Midlands Birding Club – Bird surveys on our site & advice to improve our site for native birds.
  • Wildlife trust – Small mammal trapping on site with the plan to do more and some bat surveys.
  • Woodland Trust

Local Green Spaces Groups:   Encourage collaboration in order to increase the interconnectivity of these green spaces:

  • Friends of Alder Coppice – The area is 25 acres of thick woodland and 3 years ago there were no paths through. Since then three paths have been created and the area has become much more accessible.
  • Friends of Cotwell End – Conservation actions so far have only really including introduction of wild flower meadows however they are keen to increase this and I will be speaking at their AGM on the 10/10/17 about local conservation work and what the zoo is currently doing.
  • Friends of Coombeswood Wedge – monthly work parties work on improving the site since 2012. It currently holds a LNR status and the work is very restricted to the definitive pathways that people walk along.
  • Coseley Big Local Group – This is a lottery funded group to set about improving quality of life in Coseley with part of this being environmental enrichment. Have no real wildlife experts (self-confessed) but wish to conduct major surveys on the area. Since the forum they have already had Brumbats survey some tunnels of interest to find many species of bats.
  • Friends of Leasowes – Grade 1 listed landscape and the main focus of the group is to support the team of rangers there by raising funds through events. I again will be speaking at the AGM in October.
  • Friends of Marsh Park and Lawyers Hill – It is a Tesco funded community garden however they have issues with anti-social behaviour from residents of local high rises who do not wish to be involved.
  • Friends of Mary Stevens Park – Set in a suburban environment they have received Heritage Lottery funding to restore their pools and are already starting to see higher biodiversity from the work they have done. Their big issue is a lack of labourers to continue work.
  • Friends of Quarry Bank – Received heritage lottery funding to increase biodiversity. So far this has involved creating a pond and wildflower meadow areas. The park acts as a wedge of green space between other parks and reserves.
  • Friends of Rowley Hills – It is a site of interest for nature conservation. What was once heavily quarried and filled in with toxic materials is now covered in grassland. It’s a fairly new group and more work parties are needed to ensure it is successful.
  • Sandnats – Heavy focus on species recording in the Sandwell area covered by a variety of experts and specialist within the group. We have in the past worked with them to look at setting up a Harvest mouse release project into the Sandwell valley area however there is very little documentation about this project and how much we were involved.
  • Friends of Silver Jubilee Park – Very early stages and were originally a walking group. They are increasing biodiversity through mowing regimes, planters and a sensory garden. The group is being funded through McDonalds and part of the big local team.
  • Friends of Wrens Nest – The group has been going since 2006. Their focus is to help wardens by having large work parties each month to remove litter (on average around 1/2 ton each month). The group also raises awareness and funds for the SSI through events. Their current aim is to build a purpose built base for the wardens.
  • Friends of Jasmine Road Community Gardens – The Community Gardens were formed when St Thomas’s Network closed the project; Hillside Herbs which was on the site at Jasmine Road (DY2 7NL). The site was used by adults with disabilities, people with mental health issues and those deemed to be long-term unemployed.

Bird feeders & boxes and Bat boxes currently on the Zoo site:   We currently have 14 bird feeders on site and two of them are being used by Brewood ringers during ringing demonstration days. A member of Zoo staff is currently receiving training and we are training our staff to acquire the necessary licencing the zoo can become a permanent effort site similar to Beale Park.

Additional Bird Boxes provided

7 – triangle design boxes (woodwork group)

7 – circle design boxes (woodwork group)

7 – small design boxes (Woodwork group)

3 – Kestrel boxes

3 – Tawny owl boxes

2 – Barn owl boxes

 Organisations that use the Zoo site to fundraise for their projects

  • Brumbats
  • Friends of Silver Jubilee Park
  • Friends of Cotwell End
  • Friends of Rowley Hills
  • Friends of Dartmouth park
  • RSPB
  • Sandnats
  • Woodland Trust
  • Wildlife Trust