Hobbledown (Epsom)

Hobbledown Heath (West London)

Research Protocol




Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath recognize the importance of, and fully supports research that further advances knowledge of animal behaviour in a captive environment to improve welfare, that which inspires and renews community interest and stewardship of natures’ resources, and that which benefits the wider zoological and scientific communities and educational institutions.

Priority is given to projects that are connected to, or are of benefit to, Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath, Coda Falconry, the Raptor Centre, the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, European Association of Zoos and Aquariums, Taxon Advisory Groups, British Veterinarians Zoological Society, Crane Valley Partnership, Friends of the River Crane, and Natural England.

This document outlines the criteria in which research is to be undertaken at either Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath.

Please read this document carefully and then complete the submission form to register your interest in proposing a new research project with our education team.

** Please note you will receive immediate confirmation of receipt of your submission but allow up to two weeks for a response as some requests, depending on the nature of the research, will require approval from the ethics committee.

If we require additional information, one of our education team will contact you directly.


Research Topics of Current Interest and Benefit to Hobbledown


A current list of research topics that are of interest or of benefit to Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath can be located under the Research section of our website or by sending an email request to the registrar at: tina@hobbledown.com(Please include RESEARCH in the subject line.)




Unless otherwise agreed, all research projects must be undertaken on behalf of an academic institutional curriculum.

Exceptions for professional scientific bodies will be equally considered.

Students and researchers will be expected to have an agreement, support, and sign off from their academic institution and be able to provide proof before a project is fully approved. Contact details of an authorized representative of the academic institution will need to be provided within the submission form.

Academic institutions are expected to provide proof of full insurance coverage for students and researchers and to indemnify Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath during the research project, and while the student or researcher has access to Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath property.

If approved, and before commencement of the project, students or researchers must provide a signed agreement and authorization form from the authorized representative of their academic institution.

 ** Form will be emailed to the student or researcher along with the project preliminary approval notice.

From time to time, and at the behest of the directors, zoo and education managers, team leaders, site veterinarian (s), zoo licensing entities, and or animal curator, internal research projects may be undertaken with the results filed, shared with designated third parties, or published at the discretion of Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath.


Research Entry Pass


Projects lasting more than 4 weeks require the purchase of a Research Entry Pass for a fee of £25 per researcher or assistant researcher, 

The Research Entry Pass is good for free entry into the site on the agreed and scheduled days where research is to be conducted and is not to be used for any other purpose.

Free entry is for the researcher only unless otherwise agreed to in writing by Hobbledown.

The Research Entry Pass is issued to the named researcher and is not transferrable to any other researcher or person. ** ID will be checked against the pass when entering the site.

The Research Entry Pass expires at the end of the project. Any violation of these terms will result in the research project being terminated and the Academic Supervisor will be notified immediately.

Types of Research Considered


Observational (No interference, or manipulation of routine required)

Experimental - minor (minor modification required)

**Experimental - major (major modification required)

** Sample (s) - minor (Veterinarian services not required)

** Sample (s) - major (Veterinarian services required)


Ethical Research


In accordance with the Zoo Licensing Act 1981, all research must be assessed and approved before commencement of the project to ensure compliance with relevant UK legal requirements. Unless strictly Observational or Experimental – minor, and or part of the normal husbandry, or routine veterinary care, all other research proposals must be first submitted to and approved by the ethics committee.

 Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath are committed to the highest welfare and ethical standards in the conduct of research and all research undertaken must not impact or otherwise compromise team or guest safety, animal health or welfare, cause the animals undue stress, or be considered ethically questionable.

Research projects must have validity and provide value and gain to scientific knowledge.


Biological Samples


In cases where biological samples are requested, approval by the ethics committee and site veterinarian (s) is a mandatory requirement. Please include detailed information regarding biological samples desired and relevance to the project within the submission form, including ethical justification.

Students or researchers will be required to cover any costs associated with biological samples to include samples requiring veterinarian attendance, supplies, laboratory testing costs etc.

Samples that require veterinarian services are scheduled and subject to, the site veterinarian's availability and all costs are the responsibility of the researcher or academic institution. Costs to be invoiced and paid prior to services being provided.

Biological samples may only be used as expressed in the approved project proposal and may not be used for commercial purposes, or be shared with a third party unless otherwise approved in writing by Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath and approved by site veterinarian (s.)

Biological samples will remain the property of Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath and must be returned at the end of the project or destroyed with proof of destruction provided.

 ** Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath reserve the right to refuse biological sample requests on a case-by-case basis.


Hours of Operation, H&S, and On-Site Expectations


All research is to be conducted during hours of operation as posted. Students and researchers will receive a H&S induction on their first day to cover procedures to include COVID policy, incident reporting, animal escape, emergency and fire evacuation, meeting points, and first aid response etc.

Students and researchers will be required to sign in and to sign out daily and as directed and to check in and out with the animal team leader on duty for that day.

In case of an emergency students and researchers are expected to follow procedures without hesitation or delay.

Unless research is being conducted by a currently employed team member, volunteer, or intern, regular animal husbandry duties such as preparing diets, cleaning enclosures, animal handling, handling of tools or equipment, etc. are not to be undertaken by students or researchers. If any of these tasks are required as part of the research project, a risk assessment must be completed with the approval of the academic institution, and tasks must be overseen by an authorized team member or team leader who is present.

If relevant, camera placement is to be overseen by or installed by an authorized team member or team leader who is present.

Team availability is at the discretion of the team leaders and or zoo and education manager.

At all times, guests are to be considered and research projects should never impact on operations or guest experiences.

**Research that requires out of hours or after dark access are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and are at the sole discretion and by special arrangement of the General Manager and Zoo and Education Manager. Students and researchers are not allowed access to site out of hours unless accompanied by an authorized team member. A risk assessment must be completed with approval by the academic institution and filed with H&S prior to after-hours access being granted.


Insurance and Liability


Students and researchers are covered by Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath’s public liability insurance when in public areas of the park otherwise it is expected that the academic institution provide full liability coverage for the student or researcher during the project, and while on Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath property, to include back of house and service areas, if access is granted.

Risk assessments with approval from the academic institution for back of house and service areas will need to be in place prior to access given.

Prior to commencement of the project an agreement and authorization form signed by the authorized academic representative must be provided. See further details under REQUIREMENT.


Data Protection and Privacy


Data from research involving human participation must be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679).

Students or researchers filming, photographing or audio recording animals as part of their project must avoid capturing images of, or audio from, guests and team members.

Research that requires guest or team information, observation, or capture of likeness through audio or digital recording, photography or video must comply with data regulations and law and must include written consent from participants. Children under the age of 18 must have parent / guardian consent.

Photography or video taken of guests or team members without expressed written consent, regardless of age, must be edited to obscure their likeness before being shared with third parties or used in any publications, social media etc. and must be pre-approved by the education and marketing team before use.


Data Ownership and Confidentiality


All data collected during the research project is herein considered to be the property of Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath and is to be made available to Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath timely and without restriction.

Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath will store all project details and final report (s) on an internal database and reserves the right to distribute the data at its’ discretion.

**Exceptions must be agreed to and in written form prior to the commencement of the project.

Access to business sensitive or confidential information pertaining to Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath is not to be shared outside of the business without prior review and written consent of Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath.

Confidentiality or security breaches are serious in nature and will result in an immediate termination of the project. The authorized academic institutional representative will be notified in writing and could affect future research projects connected to the academic institution from being approved.


Changes After Approval


Changes to approved research projects must be submitted in writing to the education team and may not be implemented until additional approval is granted. Depending on the changes made, this may require additional approval from the ethics committee and or the site veterinarian (s.) Additional approval from the academic institution will be required.

Students and researchers must notify the education team in writing immediately if for any reason they cannot complete the project. A formal early termination of project form as supplied by the education team must be completed and signed by the student or researcher, to be kept for business files. A copy of the completed and signed early termination of project form will be forwarded to the authorized academic institution representative.


Postponement or Rescindment of Research


Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath reserve the right to postpone or rescind approval of any research project. (e.g., where health and safety issues arise such as COVID restrictions, avian flu restrictions, or animal illness, as advised by site veterinarian etc. or in cases where research is deemed outside of the scope of original approved proposal or has become in anyway disruptive in nature for the animals, team, or guests.)

In all cases, formal notification will be provided to the student or researcher and a copy forwarded to the authorized academic institution representative.


Final Research Results and Publication


A copy of all final research results must be provided to the Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath education team for final approval a minimum of two weeks prior to submission for publication, including dissertations, journal manuscripts, abstracts for oral or poster presentations, and social media etc. This must include the ability for Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath to provide peer review and comments, in line with normal scientific practice.

All materials submitted for publication or presentation should acknowledge support and contribution made by Hobbledown or Hobbledown Heath.

Hobbledown and Hobbledown Heath reserve the right to reproduce publications for marketing, zoo licensing or BIAZA member accreditation purposes.

Research Submission Form