Research application form

Policy Aims and Objectives

This policy sets out the obligations of researchers who undertake scientific research at, or in association with, Bristol Zoo Gardens, Wild Place Project and/or Bristol Zoological Society.


This policy applies to all researchers, external or BZS staff and students, who undertake scientific research at, or in association with, Bristol Zoological Society. It relates to scientific research undertaken at Bristol Zoo Gardens, Wild Place Project, any of the Society’s field projects, as well as research under the supervision of Society staff at other sites.


1. Research proposal process

Anyone wishing to undertake research at, or in association with, Bristol Zoological Society (hereafter the Society) must complete a Research Proposal Form, which will be reviewed by relevant Society staff. Research must not begin until it has been fully approved and a research pass issued. 

2. Society Vision/Mission Statements

All research undertaken at, or in association with, the Society must be compatible with the Society’s vision and mission (Strategy to 2035). Our mission is saving wildlife together. Our vision is for wildlife to be a part of everyone’s lives and for people to want to, and be enabled to, protect wildlife now and for the future. Priority will be given to research that furthers the objectives of the Society’s Conservation Master Plan, and/or the Society’s Zoo-Based Research Themes. 

3. Impact of research on subjects and/or society

All research undertaken must be for the net benefit of the individual study subject(s), species or habitats. Where no such net benefit can be demonstrated, research projects may only be approved if they have strong benefits to society, or meet the set learning outcomes of the Society’s higher education programmes.

4. Legal considerations

 Research must comply with UK law. The Society may, only under exceptional circumstances, approve research requiring Home Office Licensing and this will be discussed on a case-by-case basis and require approval from our Conservation, Ethics and Sustainability Committee.

5. Ethical considerations

Proposed research will be reviewed by staff at the Society, for scientific rigour, practicality and animal/human ethics. Staff will include members of the Field Conservation & Science Department, and Animal/Veterinary/Learning departments, as appropriate. If any ethical concerns arise, applicants will be asked for further supporting information and this along with the proposal will be scrutinised in the first instance by a sub-group of the Conservation, Ethics and Sustainability Committee. All projects must adhere to BZS Animal Welfare Policy, which will be provided to researchers when relevant. This may result in a prolonged review period of up to four months. 

6. Publication of results, authorship and staff acknowledgement

All research undertaken at, or in association with, the Society must appropriately credit and acknowledge Bristol Zoo Gardens, Wild Place Project and/or Bristol Zoological Society. It is required that individual Society staff supervising research projects, or making a substantial contribution to experimental design or data collection, will be co-authors on any publications. This should be discussed with relevant Society staff, in advance of any manuscript preparation. They should also be mentioned by name in the relevant section of reports. The Field Conservation & Science Department should be advised of a researcher’s intention to publish as early as possible, and a draft manuscript should be shared with the department prior to submission. Publication of results in peer-reviewed journals, technical reports, grey literature or conference proceedings is strongly encouraged but it is imperative to discuss with the Society how the Society and its data should be identified/anonymised in publications. This will be discussed on a case-by-case basis. Copies of any publication resulting from research undertaken through the Society should be provided to us by the lead author as soon as it is available.

7. Data usage and intellectual property

An electronic copy of raw data, appropriately annotated to allow independent interpretation, must be provided to the Society upon completion of research. The Society reserves the right to use all data collected at Bristol Zoo Gardens, Wild Place Project or at one of its in situ projects for internal use, for example for evidence-based animal management. The Society also reserves the right to use this data in a scientific publication, if it has not already been published (or submitted for publication) elsewhere within one year of the completion of the research project and the appropriate consents have been gained (for example, human participants have consented to use of their data in a publication). In such cases, due acknowledgement of researcher contribution and intellectual property will be given in accordance with the Society’s Data Protection Policy.

If researchers are given access to sensitive Society data/information (including but not limited to archival documents, ZIMS Medical, ZIMS data, etc.), researchers must acquire written approval by the Head of Field Conservation and Science, Head of Veterinary Services or Director of Conservation and Science, prior to publication of any results arising from those data.

8. Research pass and fees

A research pass is required in order to be on site for studies at Bristol Zoo Gardens or Wild Place Project. A non-refundable research fee is payable once the project has been approved, and before it can commence. Payment should not be sent with the application. In addition to site access (normally within zoo operating hours), the research pass entitles the bearer to a basic level ZIMS Taxon Report for their study species (if required), access to our library (if required), and a short introduction by relevant staff. The research pass does not include supervision by Society staff, any discounts in cafes, shops etc., special parking, or site access for any non-researchers such as friends or family. The research pass will be active for the duration of the project, up to a maximum of 12 months. Renewals will be considered on a case-by-case basis. It must be shown at the main entrance upon arrival, and carried at all times while onsite. The research pass fee may be waived, if researchers are affiliated to specific partner institutions, or where the project has been commissioned by the Society.

9. Researcher conduct and changes to plans

A researcher must adopt a high level of professionalism and responsibility for their health and safety when undertaking research at the Society. This includes abiding by all health and safety instructions, being courteous to staff and zoo visitors, and reporting any concerns or issues to a member of staff. If a researcher’s plans change after approval (for example a cancellation of research due to illness, or major changes to the research aims or methods), they are expected to make the Field Conservation & Science department aware. Significant alterations to a project design may require a new proposal form to be submitted and approved.

10. Researchers found in violation of the Research Policy

The Society reserves the right to revoke research approval, or seek prosecution for gross misconduct.


All researchers are expected to follow the policy and to act in a manner that is coherent with its principles. The Trustees and Chief Executive have overall responsibility for the implementation of the policy through the Executive Board.


This policy will be reviewed regularly by the Director of Conservation and Science to ensure compliance with current legislation, ethical and professional standards and organisational changes.

Last revised February 2021

Click here to download our Research Proposal Form.

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