Orangutans at Brookfield Zoo

The Science of Animal Care

One of the exciting new challenges in enhancing high-level animal care in zoos is applying a broad range of sciences to evaluate animal well-being. The Chicago Zoological Society has addressed this challenge by establishing the Center for the Science of Animal Welfare (CSAW), a program designed to advance the science of “animal-directed” care at Brookfield Zoo.

With CSAW, the Society is expanding the field through innovation— combining scientific study and animal husbandry to develop the best possible management practices.This is leading to a suite of tools to evaluate animal well being from an animal-centric perspective, and building on the existing programs that CZS has established, such as.

Population Genetics
Behavioral Endocrinology
Nutrition Research
Behavioral Husbandry
Behavioral Research
Veterinary Science


The Center uses both basic and applied research, with the integrated approach allowing scientists and researchers to better understand and accurately read the behavioral indicators directly associated with our animal management practices.

The fundamental elements of the Center include:

A Team Approach—CZS engages in significant collaboration among the scientists and husbandry management staff at Brookfield Zoo, as well as with scientists at other zoos, aquariums, museums, and universities to promote sound research for the benefit of species and the care of individual animals.

Respect and Compassion—CZS ensures that every aspect of Brookfield Zoo’s operations respects, protects, and promotes the well-being of all of the animals in our care.