“Our initial model runs show that citizen science measurements are doing an amazing job of improving our simulations,” said David Hill, an Oregon State University professor of civil engineering, who is collaborating with Alaska and University of Washington researchers. They received one of 16 NASA citizen science grants for the project.

“We want tourists visiting the Amazon to know that if they care about wildlife, they should not use animals as photo props on their vacation,” World Animal Protection’s global wildlife adviser Neil D’Cruze said in an email interview. “The reality is that these ‘wildlife selfies of a lifetime’ actually involve significant animal suffering.” He said animals presented to tourists have typically been pulled from natural habitats, are kept in “unsuitable conditions” and are handled by dozens of visitors a day, with tourists “typically unaware of the stress and injury” the creatures experience.