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PDXWILDLIFE partnered with the San Diego and Oregon Zoos, along with PDXWildlife, to create a custom day/night outdoor surveillance system at a giant panda reserve in China.

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Wireless Surveillance Helps San Diego Zoo's Giant Panda Conservation Project

Vivotek's IP8332 - A high resolution day/night weather-proof camera

Working with the Oregon Zoo and the San Diego Zoo, PDXWildlife is a Portland, Oregon based non-profit that uses scientific research to advance the conservation of endangered species. Together, they have worked to improve breeding techniques in captive species and educate communities on ways to improve the environment for these animals.

Female Giant Pandas only enter into the breeding cycle once per year and if they aren't constantly monitored the chance to breed a captive panda can be missed. PDXWildlife traveled to China to study the breeding techniques of Giant Pandas at the Bifengxia Panda Reserve.

PDXWildlife reached out to for a custom surveillance system to help monitor the pandas at the reserve in an attempt to increase the success of the yearly breeding.

Day/Night Outdoor Surveillance

The pandas are kept in outdoor pens in their natural environment. Any surveillance cameras had to withstand changing temperatures, rain, and dust while providing high-quality video.

The cameras also had to work in changing light conditions, which was especially challenging at night. The wildlife reserve did not have overnight keepers, so panda behavior between 4:00 pm and 8:00 am would be monitored by cameras for more accurate data. Because pandas only mate once a year, it was essential to have this around-the-clock video.

Meghan Martin, who works in the Conservation & Research Department, also explained that panda behavior may change when humans are around, creating differences in the data. "I am excited to do a comparison of behaviors during human management hours versus after hours to see the effects of human interactions on breeding behaviors."

Megapixel IP Camera Solution

To meet the outdoor day/night surveillance requirements, designed a cost effective system using six Vivotek IP8332 cameras. These outdoor cameras are weatherproof and come with built in IR LED's to record clear video in complete darkness.

The Vivotek IP8332 also streams high resolution 1 megapixel video at 30 FPS. This allows the camera to easily capture details of the panda behavior. And because multiple pandas are being monitored by many cameras at once, H.264 video compression ensures video quality while preserving network bandwidth.

With a limited budget, created a scalable surveillance system to meet the unique demands of the panda reserve as they currently are, but to also meet the needs of Martin's team in the future.
Wireless Network Design

The layout of the panda reserve in China made it impossible to run CAT5 wiring to power the cameras. Instead, designed a point-to-point wireless system to connect cameras back to the recording server. also configured the system in their Portland, OR office before shipping it to China for easier installation. Additionally, Martin received recommendations on camera placement to best record panda behavior in their large pens.

Each camera was mounted next to a power source, and connected to a Ubiquiti PoE-powered Nano-Station. The cameras were placed to ensure each Nano-station had clear line of sight to the recording server wireless network antenna, minimizing the wires necessary for installation.

When a last-minute problem arose during installation in China, the technical team quickly resolved it over email to help Martin and her team stay on schedule: "They were able to solve this problem within one day."

Looking Forward

PDXWildlife, the San Diego and Oregon Zoos, and worked together to create this small surveillance system to meet the unique demands of the panda reserve. Working on a limited budget, this system has already helped Martin gather important data to preserve the Giant Panda species.

According to Martin, camera surveillance versus human monitoring is already making a difference. "After hours viewing also gives me flexibility with my research because the behavioral estrous of female pandas often comes on quite suddenly and if we were unable to hand record behaviors from the day before, we still have this data caught on video that we can then analyze."

The surveillance system was designed for easy upgrading, so additional cameras and features can be added in the future. Until then, the San Diego and Oregon Zoos are excited to use the surveillance system. "We are super happy with the camera performance and they worked exactly how we imagined," says Martin. provided a custom surveillance system to monitor Giant Pandas at the Bifengxia Panda Reserve in China in an effort to increase the success of their once a year breeding pattern.


San Diego Zoo
Oregon Zoo


Wildlife Surveillance


Wireless Outdoor Surveillance


February, 2012

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