Diana, A., Salas, M., Pereboom, Z. et al. 2021. A systematic review of the use of technology to monitor welfare in zoo animals: Is there space for improvement? Animals 11(11), 3048.
A top priority of modern zoos is to ensure good animal welfare (AW), thus, efforts towards improving AW monitoring are increasing. Welfare assessments are performed through more traditional approaches by employing direct observations and time-consuming data collection that require trained specialists. These limitations may be overcome through automated monitoring using wearable or remotely placed sensors. However, in this fast-developing field, the level of automated AW monitoring used in zoos is unclear. Hence, the aim of this systematic literature review was to investigate research conducted on the use of technology for AW assessment in zoos with a focus on real-time automated monitoring systems. The search led to 19 publications with 18 of them published in the last six years. Studies focused on mammals (89.5%) with elephant as the most studied species followed by primates. The most used technologies were camera (52.6%) and wearable sensors (31.6%) mainly used to measure behaviour, while the use of algorithms was reported in two publications only. This research area is still young in zoos and mainly focused on large mammals. Despite an increase in publications employing automated AW monitoring in the last years, the potential for this to become an extra useful tool needs further research.