Published: 18 December 2013

Black rhino research wins zoo ‘Oscars’ award

Black rhinoceros

A PhD student has been awarded the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) award for the Best Research Project as part of a collaboration between the University of Liverpool and Chester Zoo.

The awards, known in the sector as the Zoo ‘Oscars’, are held to celebrate some of the incredible contributions made by the zoo community to animal welfare, wildlife conservation, public understanding and horticulture.

Katie Edwards has been working on the award-winning collaborative PhD project investigating population performance and factors that influence reproductive success in the eastern black rhinoceros, supervised by Dr Sue Walker at Chester Zoo, Dr Susanne Shultz at the University of Manchester and Professor Jane Hurst at the University of Liverpool.

BIAZA held its annual awards ceremony at ZSL London Zoo with over 150 people in attendance. The winning projects were selected by a panel of external experts as well as professionals from within the zoo community.

Commenting on the award, Katie Edwards said: “We are very proud to have our work recognised in such prestigious sector awards.

“For ten years the zoo had no new baby rhinos, but since the start of the project they have now had five births in the last five years. This was a challenging project but tracking hormones gives us an insight into what is going on inside these animals. It can help us to get a better understanding of reproduction and ultimately improve the breeding programme.”

It is the second year running that Chester Zoo has picked up this accolade for research.

Dr Kirsten Pullen, CEO of BIAZA, said: “The BIAZA awards highlight the crucial work carried out in zoos and aquariums. All of this year’s award-winning projects show the exceptional contributions our members are making to animal husbandry and welfare, wildlife conservation and public understanding for species both in the UK and overseas. Huge congratulations to all the winners.”

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