November 6-8, 2020 is Zoohackathon weekend !  This year, The Free Spirit Foundation, The U.S. Embassy France and the U.S. Department of State are proud to be working in close cooperation with several U.S. Embassies in Europe to facilitate the European Regional Virtual hackathon, the Zoohackathon 2020

Over 48 hours, participants across EUR will work on problem statements and develop technology solutions to help fight wildlife trafficking via a designated central online platform.  The event is designed to raise awareness, spur innovation, and educate and empower participants as well as meet Department objectives of increasing regional cooperation on environment, science, and technology, and confronting shared global challenges.  At the conclusion of the event, our EUR judging panel will select the three top winning teams who will thereafter virtually present their solutions and compete for the global prize at the “final global presentation day” November 13-15. 


What is a Zoohackathon ?

Zoohackathon 2020 is a global competition run by the U.S. Department of State that harnesses the power of technological innovation and the raising of public awareness to combat wildlife trafficking. It brings together coders, university students, wildlife conservation experts, zoos, and other academic and nongovernmental organizations to develop wire-frame/demo technology solution ideas over 2.5 days.  We aim to turn these solution ideas into real-world technologies that can help combat wildlife trafficking into the future.  In prior years, this competition was held in-person, but as COVID-19 has made that infeasible for 2020, we have developed the Virtual Global Zoohackathon 2020. 

Why is this important ?

The U.S. Department of State plays an important role in the fight against wildlife trafficking by strengthening global enforcement, reducing demand for illegal wildlife products, and expanding international commitments.  Zoohackathon supports these efforts by engaging new audiences to develop new tech solutions to combat wildlife trafficking and building cross-sector partnerships across governments, the private sector, and intergovernmental stakeholders.


Wildlife trafficking is one of the world’s most nefarious challenges. Trafficking in poached and living wildlife is decimating populations of iconic animals such as elephants, rhinos, and tigers. More quietly, the world faces the permanent loss of fauna as diverse as pangolins and tortoises. Local communities are losing livelihoods and their natural identities and are becoming literal battlegrounds in a fight for survival. The once occasional link between wildlife trafficking and gun, drug, and human trafficking is now a highway that involves transnational organized criminals. This illegal trade is driven by demand for exotic pets, delicacies, jewelry, decorations, and traditional medicines. Even countries that are not destination markets can play roles as transit routes. The rate of trafficking has spiked over the last few years, and time is against us. The United States and countries around the world are leading international efforts to stop this scourge and bring kingpins to justice.


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$12,282 in prizes

First place

Prize n°1

prizes are subject to change” based on circumstances

The Free Spirit Foundation will offer a travel to Paris (3 days and 2 nights) to the 5 members of the winner team. During those 3 days, the winners will be invited to the EMAJINARIUM concert created by Free Spirit Foundation. That concert in the amazing location called ‘Seine Musical’ will be on March 20th 2021. 200 artists will combine their talent to raise funds to plant trees and restore the forest, the natural habitat of a lot of species.

The hotel will be a hotel of the Accor group (IBIS hotel) at Paris. It will be also a great opportunity for the winners to visit the emblematic places such as the Eiffel tower and Arc de Triomphe. The prizes will also include a visit of the Louvre museum and ‘Le jardin des plantes’

Prize n°2
During the next 2 years after the hackathons, 3 mentors who are experts in new technologies will do the follow up of the winners.

Every 4 months, the team of the winners will have a video conferencing call will one of the mentors mentioned above for 1h30.

During those meetings, the mentor will :

Ask for an update of the project
Will provide some advices and recommendations to improve the project and to face the challenges
Will activate his/her professional network to support the project
Will provide some relevant advices to the winners for their own career

Prize n°3
The Free Spirit Foundation has created the ‘Recreer le FUTUR’ summit. It is a summit dedicated to promote the solutions for a positive impact for the planet. It will be in autumn 2021 at Paris. Several topics will be covered at the major event such as wildlife conservation, protection of the oceans, protection of the forest, etc… We expect 100 journalists, 3000 visitors, 150 speakers and 50 solutions with a positive impact presented. All lot of companies will be joined that event including potential investors.

We will invite of the members of the team of winners to that event in order to present the solution. It will be an amazing opportunity to improve the visibility for their project. We will offer a place to that winner in the ‘village of solutions’. Private companies would be able to accelerate the development of that solution created by the team then.
For more information about the summit :

Prize n°4
The Free Spirit Foundation will organize a trip to Kenya or Zimbabwe in 2021 in order to visit the sanctuary of one of the Free Spirit Foundation partners. These partners are wildlife conservation non profit organization protecting endangered species. That trip will give an amazing opportunity for the representative of the team to meet experts in the field. One of these organizations works with rangers covering a large area in Kenya to protect species. The prize will include a trip for the team representative and 2 members of the Free Spirit Foundation.

Second place

5 x 14 inches laptops for the team. 1 laptop per individual.

prizes are subject to change” based on circumstances

Third place

prizes are subject to change” based on circumstances

We used the exchange rate of 6th November at 7pm.
The partner offers 1500 euros.
Prize offered by our partner and for each member of the team, the Free Spirit will offer a t-shirt of the program INAUDIBLE VOICES, our wildlife conservation program. We’ll also offer a book (in French and in english) of the show EMAJINARIUM - Behind the scenes. It is a book that includes all the secrets of a beautiful show with 160 artists of the Free Spirit Foundation. Amazing costumes, props, bodypainting, accessories of that show dedicated to raise funds for vulnerable children across the globe.

Devpost Achievements

Submitting to this hackathon could earn you:


Statement of Eligibility, License, and Release: Zoohackathon 2020

  • Must be at least 18 years old;
  • Cannot be personally employed by or have any immediate family employed by, serve as contractors for, or be interns, directors, or officers of the U.S. Government, the U.S. Department of State, or its Organizing Partner(s) (collectively, “Sponsors”) of Zoohackathon 2020 in any way, shape, or form.
  • Meet any and all other conditions of eligibility set forth in the Zoohackathon 2020 Official Terms and Rules (the “Rules”).



Each team must submit one final presentation by 12pm (NOON) on November 8 at in order to qualify for judging. The format of the submission is at the team's discretion, but must emphasize the following: 1) rational for choosing the problem statement; 2) approach to addressing the problem statement; 3) choice of code, tech, etc.; and 4) how the demo tech/code/wireframe developed by the team successfully addresses the problem outlined in their chosen problem statement. Presentations will also need to be presented to the judging panel per the attached Rules and Guidelines. 


Fabrice Hossa

Fabrice Hossa
Founder of Free Spirit Foundation

Antoinette Sprenger

Antoinette Sprenger
Senior Expert Environmental Justice - IUCN Netherlands

Peter Leimgruber
Ph. D. - Center Head Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute

Aki Salmi

Aki Salmi
Web Developer & Software Engineer - Bryter

Olivier Robinet

Olivier Robinet
Sous-Directeur des échanges internationaux à la Direction des affaires européennes et internationales

Christopher Snipes

Christopher Snipes
U.S. Embassy Paris Counselor for Environment, Science, Technology, and Health Affairs

Miet Van Looy

Miet Van Looy
European Commission - International Relations Officer - CITES and EU Wildlife Trade Regulations

Judging Criteria

    Concept, quality of deliverables, objectives, targets, oral presentation for videos
    Architecture, structure of the solution, interface
    Level of innovation, finished product, technology used, data
    Financial aspects, marketing, technical, feasibility, commercial value, deployment
    Ethics, efficiency, appropriateness of the solution, projection, expected effects

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