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Surprise! Rare animals caught on camera at “Smithsonian WILD!”


Smithsonian WILD! is a new Web site designed to showcase the Smithsonian’s use of motion-triggered camera traps. Camera traps are an incredibly useful tool for scientists seeking to answer an enormous range of conservation and ecological questions. Researchers attach these cameras to posts or trees along forest trails. When a camera’s sensor registers an animal’s body heat and movement, a photograph is taken. The Smithsonian WILD! Web site can be accessed at the Web address:


This photo of an ocelot was taken on Barro Colorado Island in the Panama Canal by a camera trap. Note camera on tree in background.

The studies highlighted at Smithsonian WILD! demonstrate the range of applications of this method, and how these cameras give us a glimpse into an animal world that is rarely seen. Users can search the site by following the trail of interesting animals or the lure of diverse sites around the world. The site is a joint venture between the Smithsonian and New York State Museum.

The creators of Smithsonian WILD! hope that while visitors to the Web site are being entertained by the amazing photographs, they will also learn about the animals, their diverse habitats, and what is being done to conserve them.


A bobcat near the Appalachian Trail is startled by the flash of a camera trap.

Smithsonian WILD! is accepting new photographs and datasets from professional survey efforts. If you have a dataset you think would be appropriate, contact William Mcshea via e-mail at In future Smithsonian WILD! may accept photographs from citizen scientists as well, so keep checking back with the site for relevant updates.


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