Home Internet of Things Aerospace Apparel Energy Defense Health Care Logistics Manufacturing Retail

Access This Premium Content

Options To Access This Article:

What Subscribers Are Saying

  • "Probably the best investment I've ever made."
    Steve Meizlish, President & CEO, MeizCorp Services, Inc.
  • "I have found that RFID Journal provides an objective viewpoint of RFID. It you are looking for a resource that provides insights as to the application and implications of deploying RFID, RFID Journal will meet your needs, It gives you a broad perspective of RFID, beyond the retail supply chain."
    Mike O'Shea, Director of Corporate AutoID/RFID Strategies & Technologies, Kimberly-Clark Corp.
  • "No other source provides the consistent value-added insight that Mark Robert and his staff do. In a world dominated by press release after press release, RFID Journal is developing as the one place to go to make the most sense out of the present and future of RFID in commerce."
    Bob Hurley, Project Leader for RFID, Bayer HealthCare's Consumer Care Division
  • "RFID Journal is the one go-to source for information on the latest in RFID technology."
    Bruce Keim, Director, Hewlett-Packard
  • "RFID Journal is the only source I need to keep up to the minute with the happenings in the RFID world."
    Blair Hawley, VP of Supply Chain, Remington Products Company

RFID Helps Link Penguin Swimming Rates to Bumblefoot Infections

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden has equipped 13 of its penguins with RFID tags and installed readers at swimming pools, in order to determine how much time the aquatic birds spend in the water and correlate that data with the presence of lesions growing on their feet.
By Claire Swedberg
Aug 06, 2017

For years, radio frequency identification technology has served the animal kingdom in agriculture and academic research, and in the tracking of pets, but the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden may be the first zoo to incorporate RFID to track the behavior and subsequent health of penguins. Passive ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) RFID tags attached to the wings of about a dozen "little penguins" is helping the zoo to create a new measure for how much water-time the birds need to prevent a bacterial infection known as bumblefoot. Each time the tagged penguins pass antennas in and around their swimming pool, the system better understands their swimming behavior.

The Cincinnati Zoo features approximately 30 13-inch little penguins, the largest such colony in North America. These aquatic birds, native to New Zealand, live a more sedentary life in captivity than in the wild; typically, they are fed their meal of fish, krill or squid outside of the water, and they don't have to chase their prey. In the wild, on the other hand, penguins must swim for their food. One consequence of this lifestyle is a condition known as bumblefoot—something that is nonexistent in wild penguins. Bumblefoot is so named for the characteristic "bumbles" (sores) that cause swelling of the foot pad.

Rickey Kinley and several penguins
Rickey Kinley, the zoo's senior zookeeper, says the common assumption is that the birds' tendency to stand on dry land for long periods of time (contrary to the lifestyle of these aquatic birds in the wild) leads to the bumblefoot lesions. Penguins are relatively heavy birds, and too much time standing could lead to infections and sores.

Around 2000, the zoo began experimenting with methods to get the penguins into the water more often. Some facilities worldwide are simply changing their exhibits or containment areas to force penguins to spend more time in the water. However, there has not been any hard evidence regarding how long they should remain in the water to prevent the foot disease, nor how much time each penguin actually spends in water as opposed to standing on dry land.

The zoo began researching RFID-based solutions to track penguins' physical activity and thereby improve their health—especially the health of their feet. Kinley says he learned of RFID being used to track bird behavior in the wild around nests, and thought the technology might work in the penguin enclosure. His team went about putting together a low-cost solution. They created their own software, and installed RFID readers and UHF RFID tags from Oregon RFID.

The zoo installed the technology in January 2017 in the penguins' indoor pool, to track when tagged members of the colony enter, swim in and then leave a pool of water. Three antennas are installed in the water, while a fourth is deployed at the ramp exiting the pool. When the birds went outside in the spring, the same system was installed in the outdoor pool.

To continue reading this article, please log in or choose a purchase option.

Option 1: Become a Premium Member.

One-year subscription, unlimited access to Premium Content: $189

Gain access to all of our premium content and receive 10% off RFID Reports and RFID Events!

Option 2: Purchase access to this specific article.

This article contains 1,311 words and 3 pages. Purchase Price: $19.99

Upgrade now, and you'll get immediate access to:

  • Case Studies

    Our in-dept case-study articles show you, step by step, how early adopters assessed the business case for an application, piloted it and rolled out the technology.

    Free Sample: How Cognizant Cut Costs by Deploying RFID to Track IT Assets

  • Best Practices

    The best way to avoid pitfalls is to know what best practices early adopters have already established. Our best practices have helped hundreds of companies do just that.

  • How-To Articles

    Don’t waste time trying to figure out how to RFID-enable a forklift, or deciding whether to use fixed or mobile readers. Our how-to articles provide practical advice and reliable answers to many implementation questions.

  • Features

    These informative articles focus on adoption issues, standards and other important trends in the RFID industry.

    Free Sample: Europe Is Rolling Out RFID

  • Magazine Articles

    All RFID Journal Premium Subscribers receive our bimonthly RFID Journal print magazine at no extra cost, and also have access to the complete online archive of magazine articles from past years.

Become a member today!

RFID Journal LIVE! RFID in Health Care LIVE! LatAm LIVE! Brasil LIVE! Europe RFID Connect Virtual Events RFID Journal Awards Webinars Presentations