We commission, fund and conduct research projects into areas where more information is needed to help improve wild animal welfare.
Recent and ongoing research projects are looking into:
- Post-release survival of wild species following rehabilitation
- Humaneness of rat, mouse and mole traps
- The welfare of performing animals, including circus animals
- The welfare of monkeys kept as pets
- The welfare of elephants in zoos.
The wildlife department and four wildlife centres have been working together to write a series of best practice species husbandry guidelines. These are based on our experience and written with the assistance of acknowledged experts. So far we've produced 17 protocols, covering some 50 species of bird and mammal!
At the moment, we're conducting research into the survival of a variety of rehabilitated casualty wildlife including seals, bats, badgers, polecats, roe deer, swans, owls, kestrels, buzzards, guillemots...and more!
From science to action
We're committed to keeping science at the centre of wildlife rehabilitation. The publication of our scientific paper on the post-release survival of bats (details below) is a good example of how science can be applied in practice. The study showed that if you helped bats develop critical skills in a flight cage before release, they survived very well back in the wild - therefore proving that this should be incorporated into our bat rehabilitation protocols.
Recent scientific publications of our work include:
- Kelly, A., Goodwin, S., Grogan, A. and Mathews, F. (2012) Further evidence for the post-release survival of hand-reared, orphaned bats based on radio-tracking and ring-return data. Animal Welfare 21(1):27-31.
- Bexton, S., Thompson, D., Brownlow, A., Barley, J., Milne, R. and Bidewell, C. (2012) Unusual Mortality of Pinnipeds in the United Kingdom Associated with Helical (Corkscrew) Injuries of Anthropogenic Origin. Aquatic Mammals 38(3), 229-240.
- Grogan A. and Kelly A. (2013) A review of RSPCA research into wildlife rehabilitation. Veterinary Record, published online doi: 10.1136/vr.101139.
A more comprehensive list of Scientific papers produced by, or with, our Wildlife Team or Centres (PDF 76KB) is also available.