Wark, J. D., Cronin, K. A., Niemann, T. et al. 2019. Monitoring the behavior and habitat use of animals to enhance welfare using the zoomonitor app. Animal Behavior and Cognition 6(3), 158–167.

Regular monitoring of the behavior, habitat use, and appearance of animals can provide valuable insight into their welfare. These ongoing data can help identify meaningful trends that can be acted upon to enhance welfare, and potentially reveal individual preferences and patterns that can facilitate care tailored to the individual. To provide a low cost, flexible, user-friendly tool for staff to conduct systematic behavioral monitoring, Lincoln Park Zoo, with development support from Zier Niemann Consulting, created the ZooMonitor app. With ZooMonitor, users can record the behavior and habitat use of animals using standardized animal behavior recording methods as well as log individual characteristics such as body condition or coat/feather quality. These data can be recorded using computers or tablet devices, and data are uploaded to a cloud server where the user can conduct automated reliability tests to check observer consistency and generate built-in reports such as activity budgets and heat maps showing how animals use their available space. To demonstrate the use of ZooMonitor in an ongoing monitoring program, two case studies from Lincoln Park Zoo are presented: 1) promoting increased foraging and broader habitat use of pygmy hippos (Choeropsis liberiensis); and 2) tracking feather condition changes in a flock of domestic chickens (Gallus gallus). These examples highlight the importance of standardized monitoring and use of digital tools like ZooMonitor to enable science-based husbandry practices and promote positive welfare for animals in human care.

Animal Type