Milwaukee Zoo’s Animal Webcams

Upgrading the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s ZooView.tv

The Zoological Society of Milwaukee had a problem. They had aging equipment that was no longer able to provide the website’s visitors an opportunity to live stream their animal cameras. Less engagement means less revenue which in turn hurts the mission.

The Milwaukee Zoo enlisted our team to fix the current web camera website. The project was difficult, but in the end it proved that CGSmith is the right team for any project larger or small. We also got to look at cute animals during development!

Challenges with the Current Tech Stack

The Milwaukee Zoo had aging technology which worked well for the time. Everything was streaming through an old flash player that was hosted onsite. The challenge was to upgrade the website while allowing for the Zoo to continue to host the streaming equipment.

We tried to leverage our industry contacts at YouTube and Amazon. YouTube, while a great sounding idea, was a disaster. Their infrastructure is severely limited in what it can accomplish. You would never guess this from how large they are. They unfortunately do not have a platform that is concerned about a nonprofit or the little guy.

Amazon Web Services was a great idea and has all the horsepower in the world to deliver excellent functionality. At the end of the day though, they do not really cater to a nonprofits needs. Amazon didn’t become the largest company in the world without charging quite a lot in fees. This was disappointing as Amazon would have allowed us to leverage the streams in a different manner.

Developing the Solution

The solution ends up having a few moving parts but is fairly simple in the end. The tech stack has a Docker container that streams the cameras and pushes them to a 3rd party server. The 3rd party server acts as a proxy between the website viewer and the camera itself. When a user visits the website they get a stream to load quickly and the best part is it will work on mobile out of the box.

View ZooView.tv and see for yourself!