Durrell receives three golds and two silvers at national zoo awards
Due to COVID-19, the annual BIAZA conference and awards ceremony was held virtually for the second year running. The event celebrates zoos' contributions towards conservation, research, animal welfare, and public engagement.
The Durrell team received a gold award in the Research category for the tamarin nest box project, which uses zoo research to solve a problem facing wildlife in the wild. Durrell helps to fund the planting of tree corridors in Brazil to link patches of isolated forest. However, when the trees are young, they don't provide the coverage and protection needed for safe sleeping sites for the endangered black lion tamarin. To solve this problem, keepers at Jersey Zoo tested several nest box designs on the captive population of tamarins. The most successful nest box is now being installed by Durrell's partner organisation, IPÊ - Instituto de Pesquisas Ecológicas. Wild black lion tamarins have been observed using the boxes as they move between fragments of forest.
In the Field Conservation category, Durrell received a gold award for their part in the emergency rescue of three endangered reptile species after the oil spill off the south coast of Mauritius in July 2020. The spill could have easily meant the extinction of the rare and endemic Bojer's skink, Bouton's skink, and lesser night gecko found on small offshore islets close to the spill area. However, immediate action was taken, and 66 individuals from the three species were rescued and bought to Jersey Zoo to ensure they don't become extinct. Thanks to the care of experts at the zoo, the lizards are now part of a breeding programme, which means future generations can one day be released back into the wild when it is safe for them to be returned.
The third gold award was won in the Professional Capacity Building category and went to the Durrell Conservation Academy's DESMAN course. The DESMAN (Durrell Endangered Species Management) Graduate Certificate programme has trained hundreds of people worldwide in threatened species recovery skills. This training has led to the more effective running of field projects, which ultimately helps to ensure more species are saved from extinction.
In the Behaviour and Welfare category, Durrell won a Silver award for Durrell's work with the critically endangered Livingstone's fruit bats at Jersey Zoo. While weighing animals is essential for monitoring their health, being hands-on with an animal can be stressful for them, especially with bats. In collaboration with the University of Chester and NatureCounters, a device was developed that scans a bat's identification tag and records their weight as they access food from a platform. This removes the need for handling bats during routine health checks, reduces the need for human presence in their enclosure, and promotes more natural behaviours.
A second silver award was won for PR, Marking, Digital and Events for Durrell's Love Your Zoo campaign. This emergency appeal was launched during the COVID-19 lockdown when Jersey Zoo had to close for several weeks and saw a significant decrease in income. The campaign was widely supported by Jersey residents and supporters from overseas, leading to a considerable increase in memberships, adoptions, and donations. As a result, the team managed to raise a fantastic £1.2m in total. This incredible support meant that the Durrell team could continue carrying out their vital work, putting the charity in a much stronger position to survive the uncertainty of the months ahead.