Zoohackathon 2019: Combating Wildlife Trafficking Through Innovation and Technology

(© GPA Photo Archive)
Picture by: Annika Sorjonen (2019) Korkeasaari Zoo
Picture by: Annika Sorjonen (2019) Korkeasaari Zoo

The U.S. Embassy in Helsinki and Korkeasaari Zoo organized the first Zoohackathon in Finland and in the Nordic region at Karhulinna, Korkeasaari Zoo, November 9 – 10, 2019. 15 developers, designers, and project managers participated in the event, forming teams to create applications, systems, and tools to help reduce demand for trafficked wildlife products.

The embassy’s Deputy PAO Ethan Tabor opened the event, before expert presentations on wildlife trafficking by Nina Trontti, Director of Animal Care and Conservation from Korkeasaari Zoo, Dr. Enrico di Minin, Associate Professor from Helsinki University, Aki Salmi, Senior Software Architect from Ambientia, and Sampo Marjomaa, Head of Public Relations from Team Rokka, which has trained dogs in places like Tanzania to detect trafficked ivory. All participants also had a private tour of the zoo.

On the second day, the teams continued to refine their concepts before pitching to the judges. The winning team, Team Li’l Sebastian, designed a multi-functional tool that simplifies the process of monitoring online sales of trafficked plants to help law enforcement and CITES in particular. The team received a 2000 Euro prize sponsored by Ambientia Oy, with Korkeasaari providing a matching donation to the Barbary Macaque Awareness & Conservation project. Team Li’l Sebastian will participate in the global Zoohackathon competition.

Picture by: Annika Sorjonen (2019) Korkeasaari Zoo
Picture by: Annika Sorjonen (2019)Korkeasaari Zoo

The U.S. Embassy would like to thank Korkeasaari Zoo for organizing and hosting the event and all of the sponsors, teams, and judges for participating.

More images available at the Korkeasaari Zoo Flickr album.


Zoohackathon 2019 Archive


AUGUST 11, 2019

The Department of State’s Zoohackathon promotes technology solutions, builds cross-sector collaboration, raises awareness, and empowers communities to combat wildlife trafficking. During 48-hour competitions, teams of university students, software developers, coders, graphic designers, and wildlife enthusiasts use technology to tackle wildlife conservation problems. At each local event — held at zoos, wildlife organizations, technology start-up facilities, and education centers around the world — judges choose a winning solution.

This year, the Department of State is proud to co-host the annual Zoohackathon in 15 cities around the world – including one in Helsinki, Finland:

  • Bogotá, Colombia
  • Boston, MA, and Cleveland, OH, United States
  • Cairo, Egypt
  • Entebbe, Uganda
  • Gaborone, Botswana
  • Geneva, Switzerland
  • Helsinki, Finland
  • Hong Kong SAR, China
  • Manila, Philippines
  • New Delhi and Kolkata, India
  • Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
  • São Paulo, Brazil
  • Vienna, Austria

Wildlife trafficking is a serious transnational crime that threatens security, undermines the rule of law, fuels corruption, robs communities of legitimate economic livelihoods, and pushes species to the brink of extinction. The United States is a leader in the fight against wildlife trafficking. In February 2017, President Trump signed Executive Order 13773, which highlighted wildlife trafficking as one of four priority areas in the effort to dismantle organized crime syndicates. For more information, visit Zoohackathon. For more on the State Department’s efforts to combat wildlife trafficking, visit the website for the Office of Conservation and Water.

More information about the Zoohackathon 2019 coming up – stay tuned!