November: From the Scientists...

Posted by Holli Eskelinen, Ph.D. on Nov 17, 2020 6:00:00 AM

A note from our Research Team: 


More than 700 million people visit zoos and aquariums worldwide each year (Gusset and Dick 2011), and in just the United States, zoological facilities draw 134 million visitors annually, which is greater than all, annual NFL, NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball attendees combined (AZA, Press Kit 2013). According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (2013), of those 134 million visitors, 35 million people in the U.S. visit aquariums.  Furthermore, the world zoo and aquarium community reportedly spend about $350 million on wildlife conservation annually (Gusset and Dick 2011). In addition to being stewards for the environment, marine mammal facilities readily contribute to our understanding of marine mammals through empirical investigations.


Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder is an active member of the research community by submitting peer-reviewed publications, participation at national and international scientific conferences, and the support of undergraduate and graduate research projects and applied scientific training.  Over the past decade, DPMMR has contributed to the development and submission of over 30 undergraduate honors 51j+7QI9MpLtheses and research projects, 35 Masters theses and doctoral dissertations, all of which involved at least two DPMMR staff scientists as academic committee members.  These endeavors included collaborative work with 23 national and international universities and relevant faculty.  Over the past ten years, the staff hosted 30+ presentations at national and international conferences, including the Society for Marine Mammalogy, the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine, the Comparative Cognition Society, the Animal Behavior Society, the International Marine Animal Training Association, and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums meetings.  In addition, our facility has a long-standing publication history, producing multiple peer-reviewed manuscripts for publication.  As of 2020, there are over 50 on-going research projects for eventual peer review and publication.  


Zoological facilities, such as Dolphins Plus Marine Mammal Responder, have a unique opportunity to provide educational information to the public. The scope of information provided by animal care professionals, education personnel, and staff scientists extends from basic information about the animals (e.g., natural history, biology, and physiology) to threats and conservation, as well as new research findings (e.g., communication, behavior, cognition, and medical).  Skeptics discount the educational content and impact of zoos and aquaria, but their claims are often replete with subjectivity and lack of empirical evidence. DPMMR is committed to the conservation and protection of marine mammals worldwide through active involvement in research and the larger scientific community, extensive education and outreach programs, active marine mammal stranding response, and powerful, daily interactions with the general public.  Our mission is to promote a greater understanding of marine ecosystem science, marine mammal conservation, and environmental stewardship. We invite you to read some of our scientific publications at

References – 

AZA, Association of Zoos and Aquariums (2013) Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, Press Kit – Impact of Zoos:

Gusset, M., Dick, G. (2011). The global reach of zoos and aquariums in visitor numbers and conservation expenditures. Zoo Biology 30, 566-569.


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