The opportunities offered to scientific research by living mammal collections are generally overlooked in Italy. This paper presents a short historical overview of the scientific investigations done on captive mammals from Italian zoos, especially those concerning taxonomic research. A glimpse of the opportunities offered by zoo specimens for scientific research is presented utilising examples from the National Museums Scotland. The importance of increasing care in the identification of individual animals by studbook and ISIS numbers is also highlighted. We argue that a stronger collaboration between zoos, museums and universities is needed to maximise the scientific and conservation value of Italian mammal collections.
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