Meet CZS’s New Behavioral Research Assistant

My name is Maggie Ramont, and I am so excited to join CZS’s research team and participate in the zoo’s important animal behavior and welfare research!

 My passion for animals actually began at Brookfield Zoo. When I was a child, I looked forward to every visit and would tell anyone who listened that I wanted to work at the zoo. I credit the zoo’s dedication to teaching guests all about animals big and small for showing me how my actions can make a difference and setting me on my path today!

Inspired by those childhood visits to Brookfield Zoo, I completed my undergraduate degree at St. Olaf College in Minnesota learning all that I could about conservation biology, ecology, and animal behavior and physiology. I was a zookeeper intern at the Minnesota Zoo in two departments, and my senior year I conducted independent research on the carnivore species at the zoo.

After graduating, I knew my passion lay in research and I began my postgraduate career in England at the University of Plymouth’s Zoo Conservation Biology Program. In this program, I spent countless hours at Paignton Zoo, where I discovered that I was most passionate about animal welfare, especially through using animal behavior to help infer the welfare states of animals at the zoo. While collaborating with zoos in mainland Europe for my MSc thesis, I evaluated the use of recorded calls as enrichment for red howler monkeys. By playing recordings of other conspecifics, we gave the monkeys an ecologically relevant way to express howling, a behavior they do often in the wild.

One of my MSc research subjects, the handsome male howler monkey Makeeta

Once my MSc concluded in fall of 2018, I returned to Chicago ready to put all the skills I had learned to good use! I began an internship at Brookfield Zoo in February 2019 to assist Dr. Lisa Lauderdale with collecting behavioral data in dolphins. As the largest international study of cetacean behavior and welfare in zoos and aquariums to date, the program worked to understand how factors like habitat, training, and environmental enrichment impact cetacean welfare. You can read the results of this study here: (

When my internship concluded at Brookfield Zoo, I was energized and ready to continue my research in animal welfare. I set my sights not too far away, at Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago! There, I was the Animal Welfare Science research intern, and I conducted two projects at the Farm-in-the-Zoo on the impacts of human interaction on the behavior and welfare of two species of program animal (chickens and goats). Even with the uncertainty of a global pandemic, I am grateful to have completed two papers for publication remotely with the research team, both of which can be found in the journal Animal Behavior and Cognition

After all of my time as a researcher, from undergraduate to graduate then to professional, my passion has always been animal welfare. That is why when the opportunity came along to return to Brookfield Zoo, I did not hesitate to take it! It feels like I have come full circle, and I am excited to share my skills and my research with fellow staff and guests alike!

My first project as research assistant is to collect baseline data on the behavior of our pinnipeds, the grey seals and the California sea lions. If you see someone standing off to the side at Pinniped Point with an iPad, please don’t hesitate to say hello!
Posted: 7/14/2022 12:17:01 PM by Lisa Doyle

CZS & Brookfield Zoo

Since the opening of Brookfield Zoo in 1934, the Chicago Zoological Society has had an international reputation for taking a cutting-edge role in animal care and conservation of the natural world. Learn more about the animals, people, and research that make up CZS here at our blog.


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