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VMS in the Wild

Akron Zoological Park i in Ohio, U.S. has chosen to use Milestone's VMS as a way to supervise and observe the behaviors and health conditions of its wide range of animal inhabitants and ensure the safety of their handlers.

The 50-acre Akron Zoological Park is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to wildlife conservation and preservation located in Ohio, U.S. The zoo had chosen to use Milestone's VMS as a way to supervise and observe the behaviors and health conditions of its wide range of animal inhabitants, especially the dangerous species, and ensure the safety of their handlers. Outside each animal holding area, a monitor displays the live video feed of various cameras placed inside. This allows the animal caretakers to check if animals are properly contained. Not only does the solution raise the safety level of its staff, it also minimizes human interference of the animals, allowing the animals to be observed from afar, so as not to disturb their natural habitat and cause them distress. "Animal safety was our main concern. Cameras were mounted inside the enclosure where it was in a secure location and did not harm the animal, or the animal was unable to reach it," said Tzviah Dank, Information Systems Administrator/IT Projects Manager, at the Akron Zoological Park.

After integration with mobiDEOS' remote viewing application, the video feeds were able to be accessed through the smartphones of relevant staff. This way, animal handlers will be able keep an eye on the zoo animals 24 hours a day, even when they are away from the facility. With the help of the VMS, the caretakers can monitor the animals' breathing patterns and even the contractions of a cat giving birth in real time. All video footage can be stored for a week or longer, if necessary. Prior to these installations, a camcorder was connected to a VCR when recording was needed, according to Dank.

Similar to the Akron Zoological Park, Brookfield Zoo has also installed video surveillance systems throughout its entire premise controlled by Milestone's VMS, in order to ensure crowd control and other security-related incidents. However, the last couple of projects have been geared towards animal health and care. Cameras were placed in rooms where animals were quarantined or giving birth. New habitats have also been built, integrating the cameras into their surroundings for general monitoring but with access also only limited to animal care employees.

Having the constant access to the zoo's animals also allow the caretakers to study the interactions between the animals, as sometimes, the interactions may not be so friendly. If an animal becomes sick, the zoo veterinarians are able to check past videos in order to determine possible causes. They can also check on the animals while on the way to the zoo. Only a select number of zoo employees have access to this private application, as video feeds are not opened to the public.

“For security or general park locations there have been no special circumstances. When the locations involve animal locations, then we have to coordinate work schedules with the animal care professionals and be mindful of their schedules,” said Chris Moomey, Director of Product Development at Current Technologies, sharing his experiences from when he installed the system for the zoo and comparing them to his previous installations. “When the new habitats were built over the last couple of years, the cameras were installed during the construction so it was like any construction site, just with a cool walk to work.”

Read the full article about Akron Zoo.