Zurich Zoo is the Swiss headquarters of the Antarctic Research Trust ART, a research organisation that works for the long-term protection of penguins, albatrosses and their habitats in the Antarctic. Using GPS recorders developed by the Trust itself, ART's researchers investigate the relatively new field of the migratory behaviour of penguins. This leads to a growing and improved understanding of where the animals go hunting for food, what depths they dive to and what they eat. ART uses this information to ensure that the regions and fishing stocks the penguins depend on are protected for their use.
By carrying out field research in conjunction with partners including British Antarctic Survey and Andrés Bello National University into the habitats and habits of penguins and albatrosses, ART helps to improve the protection for these animals. Together, the researchers have published more than 30 articles in specialist journals. The data obtained plays an essential role in the establishment of marine reserves and the development of action plans to deal with oil spills and other disasters. ART has also purchased four unspoiled islands to the south of the Falkland Islands and designated them as strict nature conservation areas.
Millions of marine mammals and sea birds live in the Antarctic and the Great Southern Ocean. Many of the populations of these species are threatened or even on the verge of extinction. Human activities such as industrial fishing, oil pollution and unsustainable tourism are affecting the animals. The usual fishing methods with thousands of bait hooks on lines as long as 130 kilometres result in a high bycatch rate and kill hundreds of thousands of sea birds, including penguins, every year.