The Promise of Behavioral Tracking Systems for Advancing Primate Animal Welfare

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2 Scopus citations


Recent years have witnessed major advances in the ability of computerized systems to track the positions of animals as they move through large and unconstrained environments. These systems have so far been a great boon in the fields of primatology, psychology, neuroscience, and biomedicine. Here, we discuss the promise of these technologies for animal welfare. Their potential benefits include identifying and reducing pain, suffering, and distress in captive populations, improving laboratory animal welfare within the context of the three Rs of animal research (reduction, refinement, and replacement), and applying our understanding of animal behavior to increase the “natural” behaviors in captive and wild populations facing human impact challenges. We note that these benefits are often incidental to the designed purpose of these tracking systems, a reflection of the fact that animal welfare is not inimical to research progress, but instead, that the aligned interests between basic research and welfare hold great promise for improvements to animal well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1648
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by NIH grants R01 MH128177 (to J.Z.), P30 DA048742 (J.Z., B.H.), R01 MH125377 (B.H.), NSF 2024581 (J.Z., B.H.), and a UMN AIRP award (J.Z., B.H.) from the Digital Technologies Initiative (J.Z.), from the Minnesota Institute of Robotics (J.Z.).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • behavioral imaging
  • behavioral tracking
  • big data
  • deep learning
  • primates
  • rhesus macaque

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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