The zoo webcam, a service that connects zookeepers to visitors, has caught the attention of zoo visitors and zoo staff, who are worried about the potential of the program’s operators to exploit animals for profit.
Zoos are concerned that if their facilities are unable to keep animals safe, the public will feel unsafe and that there could be more harm to befall the animals, said Amanda Johnson, zoo communications manager.
“If the animals are unable or unwilling to take their medication, we are worried they are at risk,” Johnson said.
“It’s a big concern for the animals that we care for and it’s a concern for us as well.”
Zoo staff are currently reviewing the zoo webcam’s legality and will decide whether to continue it or to close it down, she said.
Johnson said the zoo is not a government agency and does not regulate its staff or animals.
“The zookeeper does not get paid,” Johnson told FoxNews.com.
“He does not have any contractual obligations.
He is a licensed zookeaker and he works within his license.”
A spokesperson for the National Zoo in Washington, D.C., said the zookeeping business does not fall under its purview and does have an employee-to-employee agreement.
“We have no information to suggest that the webcam is in violation of the agreement, which is a public policy we support,” the spokesperson said.
The spokesperson said the National Zoological Park does not license the zoo’s webcam operators, and any animals in distress will be cared for by a licensed veterinarian.
However, the spokesperson added that the National Park Service does not supervise the zoological park’s webcam operations.
“Zoos do not monitor webcam operations, which makes it difficult to tell exactly how the webcam operates, and how it can be used,” the National Parks Service said in a statement.
“For the past several years, National Park Zoo staff have been actively working with the National Zoos Veterinary Medical Care team, which specializes in zoos-wide zoos health and safety programs, to educate and provide support to the staff on the appropriate use of the webcam.”
While zoos have not been able to identify who is using the webcam, Johnson said they have been aware of some people who have posted inappropriate comments on the zoo website.
“When a zoo gets a complaint from an individual who wants to view an animal, we’ll try to get the individual to remove their comments, which we do have in place,” Johnson explained.
The National Zoo spokesperson said that the zoo will work to “support and protect” animals, but noted that it has limited resources, including veterinarians and other staff, to respond to all complaints.
The zoo is also concerned about the webcam’s ability to monitor its staff, and the potential for people to misuse the service.
“Because the zoo doesn’t have a webcam, it’s difficult to know how it’s being used,” Johnson stated.
This is a zookee-to be-wild relationship,” she said, adding that the video will be monitored by the zoo. “
This is not an animal welfare issue.
This is a zookee-to be-wild relationship,” she said, adding that the video will be monitored by the zoo.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.