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Student and voluntary research placement 2024-2025

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 received BES small project grants and achieved awards, including best speaker at the Annual BIAZA Research Symposium.

Past projects include:

  • Territory mapping of the European badger (Meles meles) on a zoo site.
  • Using yellow rattle Rhinanthus minor as a meadow restoration tool.
  • Biology and habitat requirements of strapwort Corrigiola litoralis, an endangered plant at Slapton Ley.
  • Feeding preferences of bumblebees on species rich grassland.
  • The use of linear features by bats in response to habitat and artificial lighting
  • Community and Conservation: Newquay as the first Sustainable Palm Oil Town. Let’s not palm this off!


Recent topics for research include meadow restoration in Primley Park, conservation grazing of Clennon plateau, bat foraging in the zoo and reintroduction projects for strapwort and hazel dormice. A key area for development is working on biodiversity enhancements for the zoo sites. We also carry out regular monitoring of various populations such as butterflies, reptiles and bats within the reserves and Paignton Zoo site. Research projects will fall within these broad areas.


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

Dr Andrew Bowkett – Projects & Partnerships Manager

Dave Ellacott – Reserves Warden


The posts are exciting opportunities to learn ecological research and monitoring techniques in the field. You will also be trained in other transferable skills such as presentation. You will agree an individual training plan and have a full training record when you leave. 

You will be a member of the Trust’s Projects and Partnerships Team and you will spend the majority of your time collecting, analysing and interpreting data as part of high quality research projects and carrying out ongoing ecological monitoring on the zoo and reserve sites.

You will also be expected to be an active member of the department and Wild Planet Trust generally, which may involve helping with other UK conservation projects,  giving talks to school groups, presenting at conferences and meetings, etc.

  • Posts are offered on a voluntary basis.
  • Placements may be for 6 and/or 10-12 months depending on the projects and start in March or September.
  • 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 is 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 25th November 2023.

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