Red wolf in exhibit
A screenshot of ZooRisk's "frontpage"


Developed to assess the demographic and genetic risks to populations, ZooRisk assists managers in making science-based decisions for animal populations.


ZooRisk is a computer program designed to assist managers in making scientifically based decisions for animal populations in zoos, aquariums, and breeding centers. It provides a quantitative assessment of a population’s risk of extinction due to the demographic, genetic, and management processes that affect populations. This assessment is based on a population’s history, the science of the biology of small populations, and the ability to manage populations in human care.

ZooRisk is shareware that is distributed free of charge by Lincoln Park Zoo. The software and the manual are not guaranteed to be free of bugs and errors, and the user is responsible for ensuring that the application of ZooRisk is appropriate to the problem at hand. ZooRisk is owned and copyrighted by Lincoln Park Zoo, but not copy-protected. Individuals can hereby make unlimited copies of ZooRisk for the purposes of population management, research, and education.

Program Partners

ZooRisk was developed by Lincoln Park Zoo with grants from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Conservation Endowment Fund. The project also received support from Lincoln Park Zoo, the Chicago Zoological Society, Minnesota Zoological Gardens, Smithsonian National Zoological Park, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and United Airlines.

Current Version

ZooRisk is not in active development. The most current version of ZooRisk is version 3.8, released February 6, 2008.

See what’s new in version 3.8.

Questions and comments can be directed to

For more information about ZooRisk and its uses in population management, download the users’ manual (PDF) here.

Installation Instructions

To Install ZooRisk:

  1. Download the current version of the program here or here (Dropbox) and save it to your computer.
  2. Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the downloaded zip file (, double click on the file and extract (or unzip) the files into the folder you designate on your computer.
  3. Open the folder with the extracted file and double click on the Setup.exe installation file. The installer will guide you through the rest of the process. You may be asked whether you’d like to install the .Net Framework 2.0 and MDAC 2.8; ZooRisk requires these libraries to run, and installing it will not modify any of your other programs. The installation will automatically put a shortcut on your desktop.

The installed program will include two sample single-species projects and one sample space and risk-analysis project that you can load at the beginning of the program. See the manual for more information on these projects and how to get started in the program.

Citation Guideline

Manual Citation Faust, LJ, Earnhardt, JM, Schloss, CA, and Bergstrom, YM. 2008. ZooRisk: A Risk Assessment Tool. Version 3.8 User’s Manual. Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago, IL.

Software Citation Earnhardt, JM, Bergstrom, YM, Lin, A, Faust, LJ, Schloss, CA, and Thompson, SD. 2008. ZooRisk: A Risk Assessment Tool. Version 3.8. Lincoln Park Zoo. Chicago, IL.


Senior Director of Population Ecology
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