REF2014 Impact Case Study: Improving public engagement with and understanding of science through a zoo-based primate research facility

  • Bridget Marguerite Waller (Participant)

Impact: Educational Impacts (beyond UoP), Other Impacts

Description of impact

A primate research centre (The Macaque Study Centre) has been established in a zoo environment (Marwell Zoo) for research into primate social cognition. Following Marwell Zoo integrating the research into their educational workshops the demonstrable scientific, public engagement/involvement and animal welfare benefits have resulted in similar facilities now being established in other zoos.

Who is affected

National and International Zoo organisations; Animal Welfare practitioners; schoolchildren; general public.


The Macaque Study Centre (MSC) is a collaborative project with Marwell Wildlife (the charity managing Marwell Zoo) who are committed to the educational and scientific outcomes of the project and advertise the project via their website. Marwell Zoo receives approximately 500000 visits per annum, of which approximately 36000 visit the MSC. The Marwell education team integrate the research into their educational workshops through interactive tasks based on our experiments with the macaques. Visitors can watch the science taking place, which 1) significantly increases their perception of the zoo as a place of learning, 2) increases their knowledge about the specific research being conducted, and 3) improves children’s attitudes to science as an exciting subject. Public understanding and engagement has improved as a result of our research with a specific educational impact on children and enhanced animal welfare.
Within the zoo community the Macaque Study Centre has attracted considerable interest. Micheletta was invited to talk at the British and Irish Institute of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) Mammal Taxon Working Group (October 2012) to introduce touchscreen training primates in a zoo environment. Dr. Antje Engelhardt (German Primate Centre, Germany) is building a similar facility at Darmstadt Zoo (Germany) modelled on the MSC (after visiting our facility and seeing the benefits for public engagement, animal welfare and scientific productivity), and the Owl and Monkey Haven (Isle of Wight) are working with us to develop a similar facility with two new species of macaque.
Impact statusOpen
Category of impactEducational Impacts (beyond UoP), Other Impacts
Impact levelBenefit (delivered impact)


  • animal welfare
  • Macaque
  • zoo


  • REF2014