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The Art and Science of Zoo Animal Welfare

January 5, 2020 @ 10:30 AM 11:30 AM

The Chicago Zoological Society’s Animal Welfare Biologist, Dr. Jessica Whitham, will speak on the topic The Art and Science of Zoo Animal Welfare.  Dr. Whitham is committed to improving the welfare of animals at Brookfield Zoo and beyond. CZS’ Animal Welfare Research Team has an obligation to identify novel methods for continuously improving the quality of life of individuals under their care.  This involves developing tools for monitoring various aspects of welfare – including an animal’s physical, emotional and mental state.  Dr. Whitham will explain how zoo welfare researchers can non-invasively track indicators of animal welfare such as behavior, biological samples (e.g. saliva), and even caretakers’ assessments. Join Dr. Whitham for a discussion about the work that goes on behind-the-scenes to ensure that all animals – from gorillas to geckos to giraffes – have the opportunity to thrive.

Dr. Jessica Whitham is the Animal Welfare Biologist for the Chicago Zoological Society –Brookfield Zoo.  She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and then received her graduate training from the University of Chicago’s Department of Comparative Human Development. Her early research focused on primate communication and cognition. She is now a leader in efforts to monitor the welfare of individual animals in zoo collections. She has spent the last 20 years designing, implementing and analyzing studies for a variety of taxa and is co-developer of the WelfareTrak® application. Dr. Whitham has been fortunate enough to travel to Africa, Central America and South America for her research.

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