technology supporting enrichment

What is a zoo jam?

2023: ACI Workshop at North Carolina State University, USA.


2022: Arctic foxes, rats, chickens, chimps and bees


2021: Tortoises, snakes, iguanas, varanid lizards, komodos and turtles


2018: Parrots, servals, chimpanzees and elephants


2017: Pigs, poultry and goats


2016: Penguins, sea-lions and big cats

What's a Zoo Jam?

A jam is when musicians improvise together to create new sounds. A game jam provides space and limited time for developers to collaborate and rapidly prototype new games, sharing a common theme and constraints. A zoo jam is an opportunity to collaborate with colleagues on the design of novel technology-supported enrichment and welfare for non-human animals, and consider corresponding activities that enhance the experience of their visitors, carers and co-dwellers.

We've been facilitating zoo jam workshops with colleagues at the annual Animal-Computer Interaction Conference since 2016, choosing a different theme each year. The ACI conference is an ideal venue to hold a zoo jam, attracting a diverse mix of participants from academic and animal welfare communities. The outputs are shared with everyone - please follow the links to explore.

  • Key features

  • One theme - multiple challenges.
    Species-specific briefs provided by animal experts.
    Expert feedback during the event.
  • Time-constrained activities with clear goals.
    Multi-disciplinary collaborative design - networking, sharing skills and ideas.
    Co-crafting and presention of rough physical prototypes.
    Open dissemination of outputs and issues raised.
  • Species characteristics...

  • Sensory modalities - perceiving and signalling...
    Cognitive capabilities - learning, problem-solving, memory...
    Physical aspects - size, strength, mobility, dexterity...
    Emotional - motivation, confidence, social status, stress levels...
    Individuality - background, age, temperament, preferences...
  • Essential design considerations

  • Enrichment or welfare goals.
    Wild, domesticated and managed lifestyle and behaviours.
    Stewardship - time and feasiblity.
    More-than-human aesthetics.
  • Logistics - location, risk factors, materials, engineering, scalability, cost, skills required...
    Stakeholders - visitors, companions, carers, managers, other species.
  • Methods for evaluation.
    Potential research themes.
  • Publications

  • Moon Jam 2023: Enhancing welfare for nocturnal species. French F., Leek, T., Coe, J., Kelly, R., Bwye, P. Workshop at ACI 2023, Dec 2023, North Carolina, USA.
  • Sensory Jam 2022: Exploring Other Sensibilities - beyond human senses and aesthetics. French, F., Mancini, C., Martin, C.F. Workshop at ACI 2022, Dec 2022, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.
  • ReptileJam 2021: Designing Enrichment for Reptiles in Captivity. French, F., Williams, L., Coe, J., Fernandez, E., Martin, C., Single, L. Virtual workshop at ACI 2021, Nov  2021, Bloomington, Indiana, USA.
  • ZooJamming 2019: Designing Beyond Human Experience. French F., Baskin S., Gupfinger R., Webber S., Zamansky A. Paper at ICGJ 2019 (International Conference on Game Jams, Hackathons and Game Creation Events) Mar 2019, San Francisco, USA.
  • SoundJam 2018: Acoustic Design For Auditory Enrichment. French F., Gupfinger R., Kendrick P. Workshop at ACI 2018, Dec 2018, Atlanta, USA.
  • FarmJam 2017: Designing enrichment for farm animals. French F., Baskin S., Cheok A.D., Nannoni E., Wallace B., Zamansky A. Workshop at ACI 2017, Nov 2017, Milton Keynes, UK.
  • ZooJam: Don’t Cut to the Chase: Hunting Experiences for Zoo Animals and Visitors. French F., Webber S., Campbell M., Kingston-Jones M., Schaller D. Workshop at ACI 2016, Nov 2016, Milton Keynes, UK.