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Conservation biologists are research scientists focused on conserving wild species and environments. At a zoo, many different types of conservation biologists may exist. Reproductive physiologists work to learn more about the biology of animal reproduction and in some species can even conduct artificial insemination procedures when natural breeding is not the best option. Endocrinologists research hormones using samples like blood, urine, saliva and even poop from animal to determine when a female is in estrus or a male has increased testosterone. This information is crucial in determining the best time to conduct an assisted reproduction procedure. Ecologists may work in situ (in the field – not at the zoo) and work to learn about the interactions between different species, both plant and animal, in that area. Geneticists learn about the inheritable factors of an animal by taking samples (blood, saliva, feces, hair etc.) of zoo or wild animals and researching the materials. A geneticist may be able to help identify what species a mystery animal is, how related two individual animals are (this helps with breeding conservation) or even whether a specific animal is a male or female…some species have little to no sexual dimorphism so we just can’t tell and this makes it difficult to recommend breeding matches. These are just some of the many research disciplines, for every question you have about the natural world you can bet there is a conservation biologist out there looking for an answer! Conservation biologists often have graduate degrees or doctoral degrees and years of research conducted through universities or zoos.

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