Al Ain Zoo in UAE is piloting the AI project with animal identification software with a goal to safe rare wildlife species, reported news outlet The National on March 9.
For now the AI system has been trained to recognize “three flagship species as they are critically endangered in the world”: rare Arabian sand cats, Humboldt penguins and Dama gazelle, – shared Al Ain Zoo’s general curator Myyas Al Qarqaz.
He hopes that AI system will help manage endangered species “in the zoo on a day-to-day basis”: animal-identification software is more efficient than human-based checks. But more importantly, it will help to determine the best matches for breeding, that could increase the number of endangered species:
“It will help us study the genetics to see how we can improve their management future, bearing in mind the huge decline in their numbers”
Moreover, Al Qarqaz envisions a common AI-generated database of all animals in captivity around the world with a digital profile for every animal. “The AI systems can monitor the animal’s data, medical conditions, welfare needs accurately and easily,” and share the data with husbandry teams for successful breading, shared Al Ain Zoo’s general curator.
In future, Al Qarqaz hopes to improve accuracy rate of the system, extend the project to other species, and share the system with other zoos in the region, the core goal of which, in his opinion, is actually wildlife conservation, not entertainment. The zoo has already signed agreements with government agency and IBM.