• behaviour;
  • biomechanics;
  • conservation;
  • welfare;
  • wildlife health;
  • zoo research;
  • zoo–university collaboration

One of the aspirations of the World Zoo and Aquarium Conservation Strategy is that zoos and aquariums should become ‘integrated into the research community as serious, respected scientific institutions that make significant contributions and sound scientific decisions for wildlife conservation’. Although zoos are becoming more involved in conservation research, including scientifically managed conservation-breeding programmes ex situ, and conservation and research projects in situ, only a few European zoos have a research team with a research policy, strategy and action plan, including conservation research projects in the field. What these few zoos have in common, however, are well-established collaborations with academic institutions and a dedicated budget for conducting research. Getting to this point is easier said than done and usually financial considerations stand in the way of establishing a proper research infrastructure in zoos. Nevertheless, there are exceptions to this rule. In this paper we give a background overview of the historical and current development of the Centre for Research and Conservation, the research department of the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp, and describe how collaborations with universities and governments can help take worthwhile ideas forward to becoming reality.