Posted on 9 May 2012
Researchers from the University of York’s Environment Department have teamed up with Flamingo Land Theme Park and Zoo to form a unique research institute dedicated to conservation awareness and education.
The CIRCLE institute – Centre for the Integration of Research, Conservation and Learning – was launched at the North Yorkshire theme park in October 2010. Jointly funded by the University and Flamingo Land, it is playing an important role in protecting habitats and species both locally and internationally.
Its work so far includes helping to design and evaluate a new penguin pool, developing the conservation areas within the holiday park, and carrying out research on how best to protect Tanzanian rainforests.
The CIRCLE team is led by Dr Andy Marshall, Director of Conservation at Flamingo Land and Lecturer at the University of York, and is made up of four Research Interns and a Zoo Education Strategist.
Dr Marshall says: “The role of the modern zoo is constantly changing and evolving. At Flamingo Land we are helping to put together a scientifically driven management strategy for all our animals – 20 per cent of which are endangered or extinct in the wild - allowing them to thrive both physically and emotionally.
“We are also playing a significant role in conserving global biodiversity through our Udzungwa Forest Project, which involves working with local people and researchers in Tanzania to conserve threatened species and local habitats.”
The team’s support in protecting the environment both at home and on a global stage has already resulted in Flamingo Land winning a Gold David Bellamy Conservation Award.
Ross Snipp, Zoo Manager at Flamingo Land, said: “Our partnership with a top ranking university through the CIRCLE institute makes us unique as there is no other holiday park in the UK with its own research facility of this kind. Its launch has been a significant step forward for us, putting our conservation and research work onto a new level.”