Zoo and Wildlife Observation
Animal behavior happens 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days per year. Most zoos, refuge facilities, hunting/game reserves, horse breeders, and even landowners do not have staff resources available to devote to animal behavior at all times.
Landowners are often times interested in monitoring wildlife on their property for many different reasons. It is important for them to identify problem animals and to assess the effectiveness of their habitat management plans. They must often rely on indirect and primitive methods such as identifying tracks, burrows, etc. Landowners who live in rural areas probably have a lot of wildlife that spend time or make your land their permanent home. Fortunately, new technology such as remote cameras, are now available and affordable to assist you in getting to know the wildlife that is co-existing with you.
Hunting and game reserve owners can use surveillance cameras to verify if there are deer or other wildlife in any given area. The hunter sets up the camera at locations that deer frequent, and then downloads the video footage, providing information about the animals that pass through the area when people are not around. Surveillance cameras can assist with locating game, estimating population numbers, and understanding animal activity patterns.
Horse breeders need hidden security cameras during foaling season. Often times, breeders camp out in the foaling barn when a mare is due to give birth, checking on her every hour to ensure everything is alright. Humans sleeping in the barn can cause pregnant mares to be very puzzled and confused, often times making them purposefully delay giving birth as long as possible. A hidden camera will not only allow you to get some rest, but help relax the mare and make for a smoother delivery of the foal.
Surveillance cameras are used in many areas at most zoos. The Department of Agriculture, which regulates zoos, does not require zoos to provide 24-hour security, therefore it is highly unlikely and uncommon for 24/7 observation. Zoo surveillance is primarily used to observe, and the advantages are numerous. Cameras minimize physical human intervention and allow staff to remotely observe animals’ natural behavior. They also minimize unnecessary stress for ill animals and birthing animals can be easily observed. Zookeepers can also check proper containment and location of potentially dangerous animals before entering. This increases human safety and ensures that animals are not inadvertently startled. When animals become ill, video footage can be reviewed to determine the cause and veterinarians can observe sick animals before entering the area.
Much has been said about the benefits of using surveillance cameras in viewing wildlife. Battery operated self-contained cameras make the work of researchers much easier, faster, and more cost effective. Instead of hiring a photographer to take footage of animals by hiding in the forest and waiting forever, cameras do this work on their own. They increase safety of personnel and prevent wasting time and money. The cameras are so sophisticated they can capture even the tiniest movements. They also allow biologists and scientists to capture feeding, breeding, migration habits, habitat preferences, and monitor stressors missed by human observers.
Cameras can be used for inside and outdoor use, can be used in daylight or night/low-light conditions. They can also be programmed specifically to fit your needs: (1) they can record only when motion activated, (2) they can record specific times designated by you, (3) they can record 24/7, or (4) a combination of all three. They are also mobile and can be moved from one location to another. Multiple cameras can be viewed on one computer screen---anywhere in the world.
Camera video footage is a means to preserve the activities of animals and allows humans to gather the data needed to be most effective and increase overall situational awareness.