Interview with Dayle Sullivan-Taylor on collecting jaguar footprints

This is a great story of how a zookeeper’s curiosity and expertise with jaguars helped her think like a professional tracker. Thanks to our friends at WildLabsNet for conducting the interview and posting it on their site.

When WildTrack was asked by a colleague working in the Brazilian Amazon to develop a footprint identification algorithm for the jaguar he was trying to protect, our first stop was New England Zoo’s two jaguars, Chessie and Seymour.  Collecting footprints from captive animals is the first step in building a reference library to train our FIT system.

Dayle Sullivan-Taylor, Chessie and Seymour’s long-standing keeper, knew that they left many footprints in their enclosure, and she agreed to snap up some images of those prints and send them to us.

Here, Dayle explains her unexpected journey in this task, from feeling that the process was overwhelming, to being able to send us some of the best prints we’ve had from jaguar, captive or free-ranging.

During that self-taught process of discovery Dayle began to think like a professional tracker, taking into account substrate, lighting, animal behaviour, knowing the terrain and picking up every tiny nuance of a footprint!

Thank you Dayle, for your persistence and professionalism. Every step of the way!



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