Zoo scientist observing a giraffe in exhibit

ZooMonitor

Animal Care staff observing a swimming penguin in exhibit

Purpose

ZooMonitor is a mobile app developed by Lincoln Park Zoo to record and analyze animal behavior. This user-friendly app makes it easy to collect data and use this information to promote good welfare.

About

Zoos and aquariums regularly monitor the behavior of animals to gain valuable insight into their health and welfare. Conducting systematic behavioral observations of animals can provide a detailed, science-based understanding of behavior, but this can be challenging to conduct without appropriate tools. To address this, Lincoln Park Zoo developed ZooMonitor, a user-friendly web app designed for zoological professionals to initiate ongoing standardized monitoring programs. With ZooMonitor, anyone can easily record what animals are doing and where they spend time in their spaces using a tablet device. Animal Care staff can then use this information to gain data-driven insights from built-in graphs and reports. ZooMonitor is freely available for accredited zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, and museums to begin evaluating and promoting positive animal welfare through standardized behavioral monitoring.

Since the app became publicly available in September 2016, hundreds of institutions in dozens of countries have registered for ZooMonitor. Program users include more than 100 organizations accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as well as international zoos, aquariums, sanctuaries, and research institutions. ZooMonitor’s growing popularity underscores the importance of behavioral monitoring and science-based decision making for the zoological community.

Promoting Positive Animal Welfare

ZooMonitor has had a significant impact on the animal welfare monitoring program at Lincoln Park Zoo. Currently, trained volunteers, interns, and staff are using the app to regularly observe more than 100 animals around the zoo, ZooMonitor is also the primary tool used by the Animal Welfare Science Program. This enormous effort is providing an unprecedented level of understanding of the animals at the zoo and a platform to address questions related to their care. For example, information from ZooMonitor is being used by Animal Care staff to evaluate pygmy hippo behavioral changes associated with new enrichment strategies at Regenstein African Journey, monitor how chickens adjust to a new habitat at Farm-in-the-Zoo, and track reproductive and dominance behavior in Japanese macaques at Regenstein Macaque Forest. ZooMonitor has provided researchers with a tool to better understand the needs of animals and how to provide the best possible care.

Links

To learn more about ZooMonitor, visit the app’s website.

For more information on behavioral monitoring volunteer opportunities and how to apply, visit the zoo’s Volunteer page.

Program Partners

ZooMonitor was developed by Tracks Software and made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services MG-30-14-0045-14. Development of a pilot version of ZooMonitor was made possible by support from the Rice Foundation. In addition, Lincoln Park Zoo thanks the following organizations for their valuable feedback during development: Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage Trust, Chimp Haven, Cleveland Metroparks Zoo, Denver Zoo, Detroit Zoological Society, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, Monterey Bay Aquarium, North Carolina Zoo, Oregon Zoo, San Francisco Zoo, Shedd Aquarium, Toledo Zoo, Tulsa Zoo, and Zoo Atlanta.

Staff

Katherine Cronin, Ph.D.
Senior Animal Welfare Scientist
Animal Welfare Science Program
Jason Wark, Ph.D.
Animal Welfare Scientist
Animal Welfare Science Program