The purpose of this perspective paper and technology overview is to encourage collaboration between designers and animal carers in zoological institutions, sanctuaries, research facilities, and in soft-release scenarios for the benefit of all stakeholders, including animals, carers, managers, researchers, and visitors. We discuss the evolution of animal-centered technology (ACT), including more recent animal-centered computing to increase animal wellbeing by providing increased opportunities for choice and control for animals to gain greater self-regulation and independence. We believe this will increase animal welfare and relative freedom, while potentially improving conservation outcomes. Concurrent with the benefits to the animals, this technology may benefit human carers by increasing workplace efficiency and improving research data collection using automated animal monitoring systems. These benefits are balanced against cultural resistance to change, the imposition of greater staff training, a potential reduction in valuable animal-carer interaction, and the financial costs for technology design, acquisition, obsolescence, and maintenance. Successful applications will be discussed to demonstrate how animal-centered technology has evolved and, in some cases, to suggest future opportunities. We suggest that creative uses of animal-centered technology, based upon solid animal welfare science, has the potential for greatly increasing managed animal welfare, eventually growing from individual animal enrichment features to facility-wide integrated animal movement systems and transitions to wildlife release and rewilding strategies.
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