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Serengeti-Park Department of Research SPDR

Animal welfare is our welfare

Serengeti-Park Department of Research With an increased call for research at the Serengeti-Park Hodenhagen GmbH, the Serengeti-Park Department of Research (SPDR) was created in January 2018. The SPDR is committed to interdisciplinary approaches to biological, physiological, psychological and veterinary research.

SPDR operates, supports and promotes scientific research projects that directly or indirectly serve the overall vision of the Serengeti-Park Hodenhagen GmbH and its mission to be innovative and goal oriented towards the future. The Serengeti-Park Hodenhagen GmbH is currently home to approximately 1500 animals from nearly 80 species. Many of these animals are endangered in the wild and are enrolled in captive breeding programs.




By examining the influence that the external and internal environment has on the animals and on visitor awareness, we have defined our main objectives as follows:

  • Facilitating and initiating research projects that are vital to the conservation and welfare of animal species in our care, including those at risk of extinction in the wild and those that play an important role in the social structure and ecosystem.
  • Increasing support and promotion for research projects involving domestic and endangered species through financial means and shared basic scientific knowledge stemming from published and unpublished reports.
  • Encouraging cooperation with Universities and Institutes with the goal of creating a network of research and conservation efforts.
  • Improving public attitudes towards animals and conservation, as visitors may leave each visit more committed to the protection of nature.

SPDR, through scientific research projects, has the priority to ensure the animal welfare of the Serengeti-Park’s animal collection by working closely with administrative staff, veterinarians, biologists, zoologists and animal keepers.

This knowledge can ultimately be used towards the conservation of species biodiversity, and in decision-making that directly impacts the management of animals in our care, which can create a legacy in the years to come.
Our research center informs guests vividly about the results of our projects.


International Meeting on Zoo Research, Conservation and Biodiversity

The yearly conference, “International Meeting on Zoo Research, Conservation and Biodiversity”, was formed to provide a platform for scientists, academia, zoo researchers and all persons interested to discuss and exchange information on new science-based innovations and research topics that will offer perspectives and future-oriented solutions to biodiversity changes, while also addressing environmental sustainability.

Download: IMZRCB 2021 Post-Conference Report

Download: IMZRCB 2022 Post-Conference Report

Download: IMZRCB 2023 Post-Conference Report

Our next year’s conference is planned for the 3rd to 6th of April 2024.For more information, please click here to visit the conference website.


Research Project Areas

Giraffen-Nachwuchs im Serengeti-Park Research at SPDR is organized into 6 main research themes:

  • Stress management
    Physiology and endocrine response
  • Behavior typical of the species
    Social learning and social structure
  • Cognitive research
    Enrichment and training
  • Parasitology
    Parasite-host interactions
  • Population biology and management
    Reproduction and genetics Ecology Nutrition
  • Social science
    Conservation physiology (a field of study that measures the physiological responses of organisms subject to human interference)
    Conservation psychology (patterns of behavior related to human awareness towards nature)

In addition to the observational data, non-invasive samples from the wildlife stock at the Serengeti-Park, can be made available to the research following compliance with Germany and EU legal requirements, veterinary regulations, and adherence to the ethics and principles of the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).


Internship Program

Learn and work alongside the animal park team in Germany’s largest Safari Park.

We offer different types of internships. For more information, please read the attached program description.

Summary of projects

(full report upon request)


Supported Projects

Please note: a scientific publication is in the works.



We encourage cooperation with Universities and Institutes for a wide range of research topics, as we provide a unique opportunity to assess and monitor species and their biology that may not be possible to do in the wild. Ex situ projects (outside the natural habitat) are aimed at developing informative data for the management of captive animal populations, focusing mainly on issues of conservation, education, welfare and husbandry. These can be implemented through bachelor, masters and doctoral thesis and degrees.

As the SPDR further develops, we aim to engage in in situ (within the natural habitat) research projects that will promote and/or support shared scientific knowledge about the coexistence between people and wildlife, species’ biodiversity and sustainability, and environmental influences.



Please read the SPDR Research Policy carefully and complete the relevant application documents.



Hörner F, Lawrenz A, Oerke A-K, Müller DWH, Azogu-Sepe I, Roller M, Damerau K, Preisfeld A (2023). Long-term olfactory memory in African elephants. Animals, 13(4), 679. Read or download the article here

Bohner J, Painer J, Bakker D, Haw AJ, Rauch H, Greunz EM, Egner B, Goeritz F (2022). Immobilization of Captive Kulans (Equus hemionus kulan) Without Using Ultrapotent Opioids.Front. Vet. Sci. 9:885317. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2022.885317 Download the article as pdf here

Hermes R, Lecu A, Potier R, Goeritz F, Rickard JP, Bohner J, Wedlarski R, Hruby J, Hildebrandt TB (2022). Cryopreservation of Giraffe Epidydimal Spermatozoa Using Different Extenders and Cryoprotectants.Animals 2022, 12, 857. ani12070857 Download the article as pdf here

Azogu-Sepe, I., & Plamondon, H. (2021). Chapter 13 — Stress Responsiveness of BDNF/TrkB Signaling in the Neuroendocrine System and Future Implications. In G. Fink (Ed.), Stress: Genetics, Epigenetics and Genomics (pp. 145–158). Academic Press. Download article as pdf here

Hörner F, Oerke A-K, Müller DWH, Westerhüs U, Azogu-Sepe I, Hruby J, Preisfeld G. Monitoring Behaviour in African Elephants during Introduction into a New Group: Differences between Related and Unrelated Animals. Animals. 2021; 11(10):2990. Download article as pdf here

Bohner J, Bühler M, Bienert-Zeit A, Göritz F, Vogt C, Wohlsein P, Azogu-Sepe I (2021). Complex Odontoma in a Young Captive Reticulated Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata), Journal of Comparative Pathology. 185, 49-54.
Download the article as pdf here

Eikelberg DJ, Allnoch L, Grothmann P, Bohner J, Hewicker-Trautwein M (2020). Subcutaneous fibrosarcomas with pulmonary metastases in a white tiger (Panthera tigris) and a lion (Panthera leo). Vet Record Case Reports. 8(2): e000960. Read or download the article here



To finance its research, the SPDR largely depends on internal funding from the Serengeti-Park Hodenhagen GmbH, and on company sponsors.
We thank the following companies for their support during our first year:

  • Abaxis Inc.
  • Autohaus Eggers GmbH
  • Ek Group GmbH
  • Heinrich und Henry Luhmann GmbH
  • Landwermann Technik GmbH
  • Recker Feinkost GmbH
  • Thermo Fisher Scientific
  • WDT- Das Tierarztunternehmen

If you are interested in collaborating on a project with the Serengeti-Park Department of Research or in providing support for our research projects, please contact us.



Dr. Idu Azogu-Sepe
Chief of Department of Research
EAZA Research Committee Core Member
Serengeti-Park Department of Research (SPDR)
Serengeti-Park Hodenhagen GmbH
Tel.: +49 (0) 5164 9799 444