Knaebe, B., Weiss, C. C., Zimmermann, J. et al. 2022. The promise of behavioral tracking systems for advancing primate animal welfare. Animals 12(13), 1648.
Recent years have witnessed major advances in the ability of computerized systems to track the positions of animals as they move through large and unconstrained environments. These systems have so far been a great boon in the fields of primatology, psychology, neuroscience, and biomedicine. Here, we discuss the promise of these technologies for animal welfare. Their potential benefits include identifying and reducing pain, suffering, and distress in captive populations, improving laboratory animal welfare within the context of the three Rs of animal research (reduction, refinement, and replacement), and applying our understanding of animal behavior to increase the “natural” behaviors in captive and wild populations facing human impact challenges. We note that these benefits are often incidental to the designed purpose of these tracking systems, a reflection of the fact that animal welfare is not inimical to research progress, but instead, that the aligned interests between basic research and welfare hold great promise for improvements to animal well-being.