Zoo Design with Behavior in Mind with Douglas Richardson

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Episode - 22  December 2020

Host: Barbara Heidenreich

Guests: Douglas Richardson

No matter what your role is when it comes to animal care, at some point you will likely encounter a situation that will cause you to examine the space in which the animal lives. It may be a behavior problem. It may be the opportunity to redesign an enclosure. It may be changes to your animal collection. It may be that your space is not addressing your needs or goals. Or you may have the opportunity to design something completely new! What would you want to know to be successful? I had the privilege, and I do mean, privilege of speaking with Douglas Richardson, an expert in many aspects of zoo management. In this episode I picked his brain specifically about the impact of behavior on exhibit design. Needless to say, it’s pretty significant. Douglas has some powerful examples that showcase how important one’s knowledge of ethology is to the decision-making process when it comes to creating habitats that provide a variety of desired outcomes. These include providing optimal animal welfare, encouraging species typical behavior, facilitating day to day care, and supporting conservation efforts. With amazing stories about polar bears, Amur and Arabian leopards, hoof stock and more, there is so much to learn for every animal care professional from this episode. 

Contact Douglas Richardson: douglas_richardson@hotmail.com


Guest Bio:

Douglas M Richardson

Douglas is a self-employed zoological consultant with clients in the UK, continental Europe, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Ukraine and China.  His areas of expertise are in all zoological aspects of zoo management, in particular collection planning, exhibit design and enhancing conservation output.

His experience was built-up over a period of 43 years working full-time in zoos globally, most recently as Head of Living Collections at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park from 2008 to 2018.  During his time managing the collection, the park saw an almost four-fold increase in visitor numbers driven largely by the development of the animal collection and culminating in the birth and rearing of the first polar bear cub in the UK in 25 years.

His zoo career started in October 1975 at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and Douglas has held senior posts in zoos around the world: Curator at Singapore Zoo; General Curator at Mountain View Conservation & Breeding Centre, Canada; Zoological Director at Rome Zoo; and Curator of Mammals at ZSL London Zoo.

He has developed master plans for zoos in Brunei, Nepal, Vietnam and Rome and conservation projects for saola in Vietnam, Amur leopards in Russia and Arabian leopards in Saudi Arabia.

He is an associate lecturer at the University of Glasgow, the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons and Sparsholt College, Hampshire, where he lectures on welfare and ethics for the national zoo management course.  He is also vice-chair of the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA).

Contact Douglas Richardson: douglas_richardson@hotmail.com

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