Dr Holly Farmer

Zoo Research Officer

1999 - 2002 BSc Zoology, Aberystwyth University
2002 - 2003 MSc Animal Behaviour, University of Exeter
2010 - 2011 Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (LTHE) Certificate, Higher Education Academy
2005 - 2011 PhD Vocalisations of the howler monkey (Alouatta caraya) and welfare applications, University of Exeter

Based at Paignton Zoo

[email protected] zoo.org.uk 

Role and research interests

I manage the zoo-based research conducted at both Paignton Zoo and Living Coasts. My work involves supervising students from BSc and MSc courses in undertaking research, for which I am interested in a wide range of fields including animal behaviour and welfare, bioacoustics and the role of zoos in captive breeding. I am the EEP (Endangered Species Programme) coordinator for the critically endangered Sulawesi crested black macaque (Macaca nigra) and I support staff members who coordinate captive breeding programmes for a range of species at WWCT sites.

Professional Activity

I teach on the Zoo Conservation Biology MSc and Psychology BSc courses at Plymouth University and the Animal Behaviour MSc at the University of Exeter. I am an Honorary Lecturer at the University of Plymouth, Fellow of the Centre for Research in Animal Behaviour, Exeter University and Course Assessor for the Diploma in the Management of Zoo and Aquarium Animals (DMZAA), Sparsholt College. I Chair the EAZA Animal Welfare Working Group and am the Welfare Advisor for the BIAZA Animal Behaviour and Training Working Group. I am also a member of the Shape of Enrichment Core Group and founding member of SHAPE-Regional and SHAPE—UK-Ireland, the regional division of The Shape of Enrichment, Inc. that is dedicated to furthering enrichment efforts in the UK and Ireland.



Provision of UV light in captive primates

Social management of captive primate populations

Implementation of animal training as a management tool

Memory retention in octopus

Effect of visitor experiences on animal behaviour and welfare

Selamatkan Yaki – save Sulawesi macaques


Selected publications

1. Jones, H., McGregor, P. K., Farmer, H.L. and Baker, K.R. 2016. The influence of visitor interaction on the behavior of captive crowned lemurs (Eulemur coronatus) and implications for welfare. Zoo Biology 35: 222-227.

2. Farmer, H.L., Plowman, A.B. and Leaver, L.A. (2011). Role of vocalisations and social housing in breeding in captive howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya). Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 134: 177-183.

3. Farmer, H. and Melfi, V.A. (2010). Songs of Experience. Zooquaria, 71: 21.

4. Farmer, H., Dayrell, E. and Pullen, P.K. (2006). Encouraging enclosure use for red river hogs using scatter feeding. Shape of Enrichment, 15: 11-13.

5. Farmer, H. and Pullen, P.K. (2005). Preliminary investigations into howling vocalisations and associated behavioural patterns in captive black and gold howler monkeys (Alouatta caraya). Folia Primatologica, 75 (supplement): 373.