Human Elements: When giraffes speak, this scientist listens

Animal welfare scientist Dr. Bonnie Baird helps zookeepers by using numbers and graphs to learn what animals are trying say.

Dr. Bonnie Baird observes a female gray wolf at the Woodland Park Zoo on November 21, 2019. Dr. Baird is the zoo's animal welfare scientist, and along with her team, she uses data to better the lives of resident animals.

Dr. Bonnie Baird can talk to animals — but she doesn’t chirp or growl. Instead, she carefully observes the behavior of the many species that call Woodland Park Zoo home. Though the creatures can't say how they feel, Bonnie uses data to translate their behavior into something we can understand and respond to. Are the giraffes happy? Do penguins get too hot? Can the sheep get a good night’s sleep? As the zoo’s animal welfare scientist, Baird answers these questions and more to help keep the animals healthy and content.

About the Authors & Contributors

Lindsay McLean

Lindsay McLean

Lindsay McLean is a former video editor at Crosscut and KCTS 9.