Dr Rebecca Newman
- School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences
- 353 21 490 4530
Rebecca's research interests are primarily focused on animal behaviour and captive animal welfare, with a particular interest in understanding the effects of environmental enrichment and human-animal relationships in zoos. Her PhD research was funded by the Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme and Fota Wildlife Park and was centred on the behaviour of lion-tailed macaques in captivity, both at Fota Wildlife Park and in other zoos in the UK and The Netherlands. The aim of my research was to understand how the captive environment impacts behaviour, including the physical (e.g. enclosure) and the social (e.g. group structure, zoo visitors) environment, and determine which factors have the greatest influence on behaviour.
Rebecca has just received an Enterprise Partnership Scheme Postdoctoral Award. Her research project is titled: Improving animal welfare through environmental enrichment: creating practical enrichment assessments for use in zoos.
As part of Ireland’s zoo licencing requirements, Fota Wildlife Park are improving their animal welfare assessments to enhance animal welfare standards within the zoo. Rebecca’s research will form a major part of these animal welfare assessments by evaluating all enrichment at Fota, and standardising assessment across the zoo using a validated enrichment assessment procedure. This procedure will be used effectively by animal care staff in Fota and in other zoos, benefiting smaller organisations around Ireland who lack staff or appropriate training in assessing enrichment, encouraging better welfare for captive species across Ireland. This project will also improve on existing enrichment strategies by modifying existing enrichment as needed and introducing new enrichment initiatives, benefiting many under-studied and critically endangered species.