Narayan, E., Perakis, A., Meikle, W. 2019. Using thermal imaging to monitor body temperature of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in a zoo setting. Animals 9(12), 1094.
Non-invasive techniques can be applied for monitoring the physiology and behaviour of wildlife in Zoos to improve management and welfare. Thermal imaging technology has been used as a non-invasive technique to measure the body temperature of various domesticated and wildlife species. In this study, we evaluated the application of thermal imaging to measure the body temperature of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in a Zoo environment. The aim of the study was to determine the body feature most suitable for recording a koala’s body temperature (using coefficient of variation scores). We used a FLIR530TM IR thermal imaging camera to take images of each individual koala across three days in autumn 2018 at the Wildlife Sydney Zoo, Australia. Our results demonstrated that koalas had more than one reliable body feature for recording body temperature using the thermal imaging tool—the most reliable features were eyes and abdomen. This study provides first reported application of thermal imaging on an Australian native species in a Zoo and demonstrates its potential applicability as a humane/non-invasive technique for assessing the body temperature as an index of stress.