http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Amazonia/default.cfm………(link to Andean bear cub cam)
Web cams are not new to zoos. They have broad appeal among the generation of people born after Al Gore invented the internet. Hopefully you agree that it is pretty amazing to see live feeds of spheniscid penguins and sun bears on display (separately, of course).
It’s even cool to see the charismatic mini-fauna on your computer monitors. Who is not captivated by watching the eusocial naked mole rats (also known as sand puppies) on exhibit. Fossorial and arboreal web viewing is also very popular for zoo and wildlife enthusiasts. You can visit the zoo while you are drinking a Cappuccino (sometimes confused with a ‘capuchin’) at Starbucks. The remote monitoring of captive wildlife is not new. Panda research units in zoos often remind people of something out of a NASA spacecraft with more monitors accessible to behaviorists than actual animals . Aviculturists have carefully studied condor chicks sequestered in nests and neonatologists have observed a host of species through the use of these unobtrusive surveillance tools. However, today’s animal keeper can leave the zoo and make it home just in time to watch the crepuscular activities of their charges.
Some of our most prominent living institutions designate webcams for use by husbandry and health care staff- cameras that are not intended to provide footage for patrons. Keepers simply login to their respective accounts and chose what camera angle they want. Well before a press release of new offspring, animal keepers may have been watching webcams from remote locations immediately following parturition.
If a zoo has the resources to install web cams, it’s possible to monitor individual animals in zoo collections from any place at any time as long as one can find an internet connection. When you think about it this is pretty amazing. Just like camera traps have provided footage of the most rare and elusive carnivores in the densest jungles on earth, zoos now have the capability to observe behaviors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week from a laptop or a cell phone. This greatly enhances the potential to carry out collection-based studies on our most imperiled species.
Internet technology progresses at lightening speed. Zoological parks are now embracing these technological developments to expand our knowledge of zoo biology and improve upon their high standards for animal welfare. I can’t imagine what tools will be available to study wildlife in the next decade. We just need to remain committed to saving vanishing species and our natural heritage for generations to come.
Dr. Jordan Schaul, Zoo Keeper Emeritus