The sector of zoology was created in 1947 within the Moldovan Base of scientific researches of the Academy of Sciences of USSR. In 1949 the Moldovan Base of scientific researches of the Academy of Sciences of USSR was transformed into the Moldovan Branch of the Academy of Sciences of USSR. The sector of zoology was preserved, obtaining in 1957 the status of the Institute of Biology of the Moldovan Branch of the Academy of Sciences of USSR.
In 1961, with the constitution of the Academy of Sciences of the Moldovan SSR, the Institute of Biology was divided into two institutes, one of which became the Institute of Zoology.
Academician Mihail Iaroşenco was the organizer and leader of the Institute of Zoology from its foundation (1961) until 1972. Later, in 1976, based on the Institute of Zoology, the Institute of Zoology and Physiology was founded, led by academician Teodor Furdui (1972-1991).
In 1991 the Institute of Zoology and Physiology was divided into two separate institutes: the Institute of Zoology and the Institute of Physiology. Since then, the Institute of Zoology has its own history, being led by distinguished scientists Teodor Cioric (1991-1993), followed by Ion Toderaş (1993-2006; 2009-2018) and Andrei Munteanu (2006- 2009).
Doctor habilitat in biological sciences, research professor Laurenția Ungureanu was appointed as the director of the Institute of Zoology in January 2019.
With the reorganization of the field of research and innovation in the Republic of Moldova (Government Decision No. 50 of 16.01.2018 on the activity of public law organizations in the field of research and innovation), the Institute of Zoology was transfered from the jurisdiction of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova to the of the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research of the Republic of Moldova.
During its activity of over 50 years, the institute has been and remains the most prestigious scientific and scientific-methodical center, which coordinates and conducts fundamental and applied scientific research, prepares highly qualified staff in the field of zoology, entomology, parasitology, helminthology, hydrobiology, ichthyology and ecology. Thus, scientific schools were founded in the field of ornithology (academician Ion Ganea), parasitology (academician Alexei Spassky) and hydrobiology (academicians Mihail Iaroşenco and Ion Toderaş), which were recognized both in the former USSR and abroad. Currently, these schools continue their fruitful activity and enjoy international authority.
Significant steps in the activity of institute were the launch of:
- two editions of the Red Book of the Republic of Moldova (2001, 2015);
- the monograph The Animal World of Moldova in six volumes, which authors were awarded the State Prize of the Republic of Moldova in Science and Technology (1989);
- the series The Animal World of Moldova with four volumes: Fish, reptiles, amphibians (2003), Mammals (2004), Birds (2006) and Nevertebrates (2007);
- the national book collection The Vegetable World and the Animal World of Moldova, which authors were awarded the National Prize of the Republic of Moldova (2013).
As an organization in the field of science and innovation, the Institute of Zoology was accredited by the National Council for Accreditation and Attestation of the Republic of Moldova in 2006, 2010 and 2015. At the last accreditation, the institute was awarded the qualification “organization with international recognition (category A)”, and the performance of its scientific profile "Systematics, evolution and sustainable use of the diversity of the animal world, monitoring of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems" was appreciated as "very good".