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Ashley Edes

Animal Welfare Scientist


Ph.D. – Physical Anthropology, Ohio State University
M.S.T. – Earth Science Education, Wright State University
B.S. – Integrated Science Education, Ohio University

Areas of Expertise

Animal welfare
Stress physiology & endocrinology
Allostatic load

About Ashley Edes

Ashley started her career at the Saint Louis Zoo in March 2020 as the Zoo’s Animal Welfare Scientist. While Ashley specialized in primatology prior to joining the Zoo, her role here gives her the opportunity to work with a wide variety of other species. As the Animal Welfare Scientist, Ashley’s job is to plan, develop, and implement research projects related to animal welfare in collaboration with other staff in the Reproductive & Behavioral Sciences Department and around the Zoo; working closely with the Zoo’s labs on behavior, endocrinology, and reproduction gives her a holistic perspective of animal welfare.

Prior to moving to Saint Louis, Ashley was a George E. Burch Postdoctoral Fellow in the endocrinology lab at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, where she expanded on her doctoral research in a study that continues today. Ashley’s research focuses on welfare and health in great apes in zoos across the United States (including the Saint Louis Zoo), focusing on gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos in particular. She helps develop methods to assess current levels of impairment at the physiological/hormonal level (known as allostatic load), which is known to contribute to poor health outcomes. Through her research, Ashley also works to identify factors that can predict and mitigate allostatic load, such as events over the lifespan, behavior, and social relationships. Ashley’s goal is to create a holistic, whole-organism framework and methodology related to stress, health, welfare, and conservation.

Ashley’s other current research projects include studying how crowd size, composition, and noise levels affect water use in penguins, examining visitor effects on habitat use in multiple species (banteng, grizzly bears, polar bears, chimpanzees, bonobos), and evaluating behavioral changes in primates during construction and movement into the Zoo’s new Primate Canopy Trails habitat.

For a complete list of Ashley’s published works, visit her Research Gate profile.