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Dr Fay Clark

Post Doctoral Research Fellow

Faculty of Science and Engineering
Life Sciences

Fay is a zoologist and experimental psychologist specialising in the connections between animal cognition, behaviour and welfare. She mainly works with animals housed in zoos and sanctuaries, particularly primates and cetaceans. 

Personal website: www.fayclark.weebly.com
Twitter: @DrFayClark


Fay joined ARU in August 2021. She is helping to develop a new research programme on the impacts of anthropogenic noise on animal welfare and conservation. Research includes projects at Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust (Jersey Zoo).

Fay has spent 20 years working within or alongside the zoological industry, investigating the cognition, behaviour and welfare of many exotic species. Her PhD from the Royal Veterinary College and Zoological Society of London developed ‘cognitive enrichment’ puzzles for chimpanzees and dolphins. Before joining ARU, she was a lecturer and researcher at Bristol Zoological Society. As a visiting research associate at the University of Bristol, she continues to collaborate on primate cognition and welfare research. Fay is also an editor for the journal Animal Welfare.

Research interests

  • Zoo animal acoustics
  • Environmental challenge and cognitive enrichment
  • Game psychology
  • Application of human mental health concepts to animals, and vice versa
  • Validation of novel animal welfare indicators
  • Behavioural informatics and analytics (technological/statistical approaches to analysing behavioural patterns)
  • Positive psychology ('happiness') in nonhuman animals
  • Great ape and cetacean cognition
  • Primate behaviour and conservation (including work with the IUCN Red List)
  • Remote logging of behaviour and cognition; new applications of computer technology


  • PhD Animal Cognition & Welfare, Royal Veterinary College/ZSL
  • MPhil Human Evolutionary Studies, University of Cambridge
  • MSc Wild Animal Biology, Royal Veterinary College/ZSL
  • BSc (Hons) Zoology, University of Southampton

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Editorial board member -  Animal Behavior & Cognition, Zoo Biology
  • Section Editor - Animal Welfare
  • Visiting Research Associate - School of Psychological Science, University of Bristol
  • Fellow - Templeton Foundation
  • Member - Royal Society of Biology, Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour, Comparative Cognition Society, Cognitive Science Society, Women in Cognitive Science, Lemur Conservation Network, Animal Welfare Research Network, Universities Federation for Animal Welfare

Selected recent publications

For a full list of publications including current work in preparation/under review, please visit Fay’s personal website.

Alexander, E., Abrahams, M. and Clark, F.E., 2021. Bottlenose Dolphins Produce Underwater Bubbles Linked to Cognitive Task Engagement but Not Success. Journal of Zoological and Botanical Gardens2, pp.287-299.

Clark, F., 2020. What Is There to Learn in a Zoo Setting?. In Zoo Animal Learning and Training (pp.83-100). London: John Wiley & Sons.

Clark, F.E., Gray, S.I., Bennett, P., Mason, L.J. and Burgess, K.V., 2019. High-tech and tactile: Cognitive enrichment for zoo-housed gorillas. Frontiers in Psychology10, p.1574.

Harley, J., and Clark, F.E., 2019.  BIAZA Animal Welfare Toolkit. British & Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums, London. ISSN 2632-6116 (Print), ISSN 2632-6124 (Online).

Ward, S.J., Sherwen, S. and Clark, F.E., 2018. Advances in applied zoo animal welfare science. Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science21, pp.23-33.

Brando, S., Broom, D.M., Acasuso-Rivero, C. and Clark, F., 2018. Optimal marine mammal welfare under human care: Current efforts and future directions. Behavioural processes156, pp.16-36.

Clark, F.E., 2018. Competence and agency as novel measures of zoo animal welfare. In Measuring Behavior 2018, ISBN 978-1-910029-39-8. pp.171-172.

Clark, F.E., 2017. Cognitive enrichment and welfare: Current approaches and future directions. Animal Behavior & Cognition4, pp.52-71.

CLARK, F.E., 2017. Introduction to the Special Issue. Animal Behavior & Cognition, 4, pp.49-51.

Clark, F.E. and Kuczaj II, S.A., 2016. Lateralized behavior of bottlenose dolphins using an underwater maze. International Journal of Comparative Psychology29, pp.1-16.

Cotton, A., Clark, F., Boubli, J.P. and Schwitzer, C., 2016. IUCN red list of threatened primate species. In An Introduction to Primate Conservation (pp. 31-18). Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Recent presentations and conferences

Invited and plenary talks are shown below. For a full list of talks, including conference proceedings papers, please visit Fay’s personal website.

(Plenary) 2021. Cognitive Challenge and Welfare in Zoo Animals. Farm animal Cognition Welfare Symposium, FBN Dummerstorf, Germany (virtual).

(Plenary) 2019. Gorilla Game Lab: Developing high-tech cognitive enrichment for zoo-housed gorillas. 14th International Conference on Environmental Enrichment, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan.

(Invited speaker) CLARK, F.E. 2018. Below the surface: Cognitive enrichment for bottlenose dolphins. 46th European Association For Aquatic Mammals Symposium, Zoomarine, Rome, Italy.

(Invited speaker) 2017. Cognitive challenge and animal welfare. World Association of Zoos and Aquaria Animal Welfare Congress, Detroit Zoo, Detroit Zoological Society, Detroit, USA.

Media experience

Fay’s work has featured in national and international press and media including: National Geographic, BBC Wildlife Magazine, Reuters, New York Times and Oprah Winfrey’s blog. She was an invited speaker at New Scientist Live and recorded an hour-long interview on working in the zoological industry for the Trees a Crowd podcast.