This month’s Research Update highlights our book chapter Learning about Dolphins: An Era of Discovery in Managed Care, published in the Scientific Foundation of Zoos and Aquariums: Their Role in Conservation and Research. Zoos and aquariums have evolved from relatively rudimentary displays to reputable research and conservation organizations. Most modern zoological facilities conduct and facilitate basic and applied research, and many of these investigations cross disciplines, involve innovative technologies, and contribute to global conservation efforts. As the most abundant marine mammal species in managed care, bottlenose dolphins have been studied extensively, garnering groundbreaking discoveries that otherwise would have been impossible to ascertain in the wild. These include, but are not limited to, a compelling understanding of calf development, maternal care, social behavior, cognition, bioacoustics, sensory systems, diving physiology, toxicology, immunology, health, disease, and reproductive biology. In an era of global habitat degradation and increasing human pressure on ocean resources and ecosystems, research conducted at marine mammal facilities has become critical to our understanding of how these animals may respond to an ever-changing environment.
The chapter summarizes some of the key findings of research conducted in managed care facilities critical to our understanding of the species. DPMMRs staff scientists were honored to write the chapter and proud to call attention to the research and conservation work at managed care facilities worldwide, often overshadowed. Working in managed care, we have a responsibility to educate our guests about the research and conservation efforts being conducted at zoos and aquariums and hope this chapter sheds additional light on the fact that marine mammal facilities have become critical to fostering awareness and environmental stewardship, as well as contributing to global conservation efforts.