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Student and voluntary research placement 2025-2026

The Wild Planet Trust is a conservation charity that works internationally to achieve our mission of helping halt species decline. We believe that conservation is something that everyone can be involved with and that together we can all make a difference to live more sustainably with nature. For more information, please click here.

We align to our START programme for consistency of approach to our research.

START Programme

S afe Havens

Research that aims to enhance the health and welfare of the managed populations that live on Trust sites. This encompasses both captive and wild, animal and plant.


Research undertaken via collaborative partnerships with external associates; how we work with our communities to bring them with us on our journey to living with nature.


Research that demonstrates the impacts of our actions. It evaluates how we influence our visitors, how successfully we tell our story, and how our interventions in the field positively impact the environments we work in.


Capacity building and skills development. Research is a process of enquiry that answers the questions we raise and this is dedicated effort to upskill our staff and create conservationists for the future: enabling more people to do more research.


Dissemination, sharing, and implementation. It’s about taking our findings and putting them to work and sharing our work with our visitors and the wider zoo community.


Students have achieved awards, including best speaker at the Annual BIAZA Research Symposium.

Past projects include:

  • Using a judgment bias test to assess ‘optimism’ in captivegiraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis rothschildi).
  • The application of the BIAZA Quality of Life Assessment as a management tool for objective decision making.
  • The effect of artificial UVB on primate behaviour.
  • Evaluation of social behaviour in captive Owston’s civet (Chrotogale owstoni).


Research topics may include investigating the efficacy of breeding management for primate species which are part of European captive breeding programmes and developing tools to measure the emotional welfare of our animals. We also conduct regular observations on the behaviour of our Hamadryas baboon troop, to help support management decisions and monitor breeding. A key area for development is monitoring the impact of our future zoo-site developments.


The experience and expertise of the staff is extensive and diverse.  Key staff involved in research are:

Dr Holly Farmer – Campaigns and Programmes Manager

Dr Kathy Baker – Research Coordinator

Dr Andrew Bowkett – Projects and Partnerships Manager


Placements provide an exciting opportunity for you to learn more about your specialist subject and how it can be applied in a zoo setting.  You will be trained in a variety of research techniques and other transferable skills such as conference speaking. You will agree an individual training plan and be provided with a full training record when you leave.

Whilst at the zoo you will be a member of the Trust’s Campaigns & Programmes department and will spend the majority of your time collecting, analysing and interpreting data, as part of high quality research projects. You will also be expected to actively contribute to the environmental enrichment, animal training and/or nutrition groups and take part in department and zoo life generally. This can involve giving talks to school groups, presenting at conferences and meetings, helping with on-going projects and general duties.

  • Posts are offered on a voluntary basis.
  • Posts are for 10-12 months starting in September. Some 6-month posts are available and may start at other times.
  • The working week is 35hrs and times are flexible depending on the needs of particular projects.  There are 20 days holiday p.a. pro rata.
  • Subsidised accommodation may be available for a small number of posts based at Paignton Zoo and is allocated at the discretion of the Wild Planet Trust.  Other reasonably priced accommodation is available close to the zoos.


There are two application forms on the site: one behaviour and welfare research and one for habitat research.

The application forms for applying for one our research placements can be using the link below. Please complete and submit the relevant form.

We also require a one-page covering letter explaining why you would like the placement, which should be sent, by email to research@wildplanettrust.org.uk.

The deadline for applications is 9am on 11th November 2024.

Interviews will be held during the week commencing 6th January 2025 and will be held online.