Sam Law

Research Student

Research Students

Thesis title: An assessment of the suitability of mixed species housing for captive lemuridae species


  • Qualified Teaching and Learning Status (QTLS) - 2011
  • PGCE Post Compulsory Education -2010
  • Awarded: The Ted Wragg Award for Best PGCE Student, University of Exeter
  • MSc Zoo Conservation Biology, University of Plymouth - 2007
  • BSc (Hons) Veterinary Health Studies, University of the West of England - 2005
  • NVQ2 Veterinary Nursing, Royal College Veterinary Surgeons, RCVS - 2004

Sam's research investigates a number of themes related to captive primate husbandry. The thesis investigates mixed species housing and visitor impact on ringtailed lemur (Lemur catta) welfare. The work focuses on understanding the link between mixed and walk-through exhibits on captive lemur welfare. It explores interactions between lemur species housed in this way and assesses impact on lemur behaviour, health and welfare. The project is approved by the British Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) and throughout Sam will work closely with zoos, zoo keepers and the Lemur catta studbook to collect behavioural data alongside historical medical record detail.

A number of lemur species are increasingly being exhibited in mixed species, interactive exhibits by zoos across the globe in an attempt to educate, utilise space effectively and cut costs. There has been little investigation of this housing strategy for lemur species or its impact on animal behaviour and welfare. Conclusions from investigations with other primate species have been inconsistent, indicating positive, negative and neutral responses to mixed species housing.

This research aims to examine whether Lemur catta are affected by mixed species housing, and under what circumstances mixed exhibits can be successful for this species welfare needs. Ultimately, the aim is to produce a framework for zoos which will enable them to identify appropriate mixed species housing strategy for Lemur catta.

Teaching & Research

Sam originally studied veterinary nursing at university, however soon after graduating she realised her real passion lay in animal behaviour, conservation and welfare. Sam then studied for an MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology at the University of Plymouth and Paignton Zoo. Sams research interests centre on captive animal welfare, animal behaviour and in particular, captive primate behaviour and husbandry.

Sam has been a Lecturer in Animal Studies for five years at South Devon College, and is completing her MPhil/PhD part time alongside this role. She is Programme Manager for a Foundation Degree in Animal Science and delivers on a number of further education courses in the area of animal care and countryside management. Sam supervises a number of second year degree students during their specialist research projects, projects include:

Visitor effect on behaviour and enclosure utilisation in Lemur catta at Paignton Zoo
Client perceptions of canine physiotherapy and hydrotherapy in common hip disorders.
Consumer awareness of farming quality assurance schemes in Britain; do they impact on consumer choice?
Bromeliad preference in captive mating Dendrobates species
Colour and shape preference of common marmoset (Callithrix jacchus) at South Devon College; implications for enrichment

In addition, Sam is a Cetacean Recording Network Volunteer and has been collecting data on cetacean sightings on the coast of Torbay for the Devon Wildlife Trust and Devon Biodiversity Records Centre since 2009. She also acts as a Cetacean Strandings Officer for Devon Wildlife Trust attending strandings along the Torbay coastline.

Professional Bodies

Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour (ASAB)

International Primatological Society (IPS)

Primate Society of Great Britain (PSGB)

Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW)

Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers (abwak)


Law, S. & Collier, S. (2008) Public perceptions of zoos; Conservation or Entertainment? BIAZA Newsletter 8(2): 4.

Conference and Symposia Presentations

Law, S. & Collier, S. (2009) Public perceptions of zoos; Conservation or Entertainment? Presented to the 2009 BIAZA Research Symposium.

Law, S. (2007). Does enclosure design effect captive lemur welfare when behavioural and physiological parameters are measured? Presented at the 2007 European Association of Zoos and Aquaria Annual Conference (Warsaw).