Courtney Collins

Courtney Collins

Contact Details:


PhD Student


Dr Ruth Ramsay & Dr Declan Kennedy


I graduated in 2000 from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA with a BA in Biology. During that time, I had the opportunity to spend my third year of university at Trinity College Dublin in the zoology department. I later returned to Ireland and completed my MSc at TCD in 2005. I carried out my MSc research on the effect of visitors on captive animals at Dublin Zoo. After that I went to work for an animal welfare charity as the education officer, but I decided to return to academia, and I began my PhD at UCC in 2012.


In addition to visitor effects and I am also interested in informal science education, specifically environmental education. My current research project is an investigation into children’s learning in the zoo setting, and how it can be enhanced. I have developed an educational intervention during which children make environmental enrichment devices for zoo animals. The purpose of this is to improve children’s knowledge, attitude and behaviour, while simultaneously improving the welfare of captive animals by providing enrichment when large groups of visitors are present. Additionally, I have done research on the effect of the zoo setting on gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) and ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) with the aim of improving welfare through visitor education and environmental enrichment. I carry out my research at Dingle Aquarium and Fota Wildlife Park.


Collins, C. K., Quirke, T., Overy, L., Flannery, K., & O’Riordan, R. (2016). The effect of the zoo setting on the behavioural diversity of captive gentoo penguins and the implications for their educational potential. Journal of Zoo and Aquarium Research, 4(2), 85-90.

Collins, C. K., & Marples, N. M. (2015). Zoo playgrounds: A source of enrichment or stress for a group of nearby cockatoos? A case study. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science, 18(4), 375-387.

Collins, C. K., & Marples, N. M. (2016). The effects of zoo visitors on a group of Western lowland gorillas Gorilla gorilla gorilla before and after the birth of an infant at Dublin Zoo. International Zoo Yearbook.
Collins, C. K. (2014). Monkeying around: who’s learning what at the zoo? The Boolean. University College Cork.

Keane, C. W. (2005). The Effects of Zoo Visitors on the Behaviour of Western Lowlands Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), Citron-crested (Cacatua sulphurea citrinocristata) and Moluccan Cockatoos (Cacatua moluccensis). Trinity College Dublin, MSc thesis.

School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences

An Scoil Eolaíochtaí Bitheolaíocha, Domhaneolaíocha agus Comhshaoil

University College Cork, Distillery Fields, North Mall, Cork, Ireland T23 N73K