New Year, New Goals

I'm so excited to join such a talented team and look forward to working with Jocelyn and all the interns in the Endocrinology Lab.

The holiday season is upon us! If you have found yourself around Brookfield Zoo lately you have probably noticed all the trimmings on the trees or magical light displays. Indeed, tis’ the season for spreading the holiday cheer! At Brookfield Zoo, this season is both a time to reflect on the progress we have made in spreading cheer to all of our animals and to inspire creativity and new ideas for improving animal welfare over the upcoming year. As the most recent addition to the Animal Welfare Team, one of my goals for 2017 is to develop new ways to assess how any changes made to an animal’s care plan or training impacts their welfare.
The holistic approach to welfare such as Welfare Trak and D-Tag project made the Chicago Zoological Society a top choice for me. 

If you have not met me yet, perhaps you have at least noticed my name popping up in some of our team’s recent blog posts. I am Dr. Molly Staley! I joined the Animal Welfare Team as a postdoctoral researcher in early fall 2016. One of the main things that attracted me to the Animal Welfare Program is the holistic approach the team is taking to monitor animal welfare. For instance, you may have read about Welfare Trak and how it is currently being tested as a tool to improve chimpanzee welfare in zoos across the United States. Or, perhaps you have seen people around the zoo making behavioral observations on various species. And if you have attended one of the dolphin shows, you might have noticed the D-Tags now being worn by some dolphins during performances to monitor their vocalizations, movements, and swimming depths. With the myriad of ongoing projects, I would not be surprised if you asked me, “Molly how do you fit into all of this?”

As the newest member of the team, you are most likely to find me working behind the scenes in the Endocrinology Lab. There I aim to assess welfare from a physiological perspective. This in and of itself can be quite the challenge as there are often very few or sometimes no laboratory tools that have been tested for many of the species of animals found in zoos. For instance, over the past couple of months I have been working to develop, test, and refine assays for measuring hormone concentrations in dolphin fecal samples. By using fecal samples, we have a non-invasive means to regularly monitor the physiological state of each dolphin over time and detect any changes to a dolphin’s welfare that may not be apparent based on behavior. As we enter this holiday season and look to 2017, I find myself inspired to continue expanding upon the tools we have available for monitoring dolphin welfare. I also look the New Year as full of new opportunities to begin working with other species as we continually strive to improve animal welfare here at Brookfield Zoo.
Until next time,

Posted: 12/13/2016 2:17:10 PM by Bryan Todd Oakley

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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