Wednesday, September 9, 2015

[UPDATED] The Ring-Tailed Lemurs at Oakland Zoo Need You: Help Fund The Smart Feeders Project

Ring-tailed lemurs using smart feeder. Photo from Oakland Zoo.
Enrichments are important facet of everyday life in captive animals. Enrichment not only help modify detrimental behaviors but can also provide a lot of fun and exploration for these animals. You can provide enrichment to "bored" animals or animals that exhibit stereotypy to occupy their time by exploring or working to get a food reward. Because captive animals have their food provisioned to them, they lost a critical behavioral repertoire --- foraging. Enrichments are also good for humans. Zoo visitors always lament about animals not being visible or animals always sleeping. While it is very natural for animal to seek hiding spots or sleep during the day, enrichment objects will provide these animals with "things to do" during zoo visiting hours and zoo visitors get to see these animals exhibiting natural foraging behaviors.

I recently met Dr. Karin Jaffe at the American Society of Primatologists (ASP) 2015 in Bend, Oregon. We talked about our work in lemurs and enrichment. She had mentioned about an enrichment prototype that her and her husband invented. You see, the ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) at Oakland Zoo lives in a large enclosure. However, these lemurs like to hang out in places that are usually out of sight from visitors. The lemurs need the large space but I bet zoo visitors also want to see these lemurs.

Dr. Jaffe came up with an ingenious idea --- build a smart feeder that dispenses food (in random intervals) in view of zoo visitors. The lemurs would want to hang out near the feeder and wait for food while zoo visitors get to see these lemurs. Brilliant, right?

Which brings me to the reason why I am writing this post. I'm so happy to see her project had taken off but she needs help building a few more of these enrichments for Oakland Zoo. Dr. Jaffe and her team had launched an Experiment.com page for people to help back her smart feeder project: Using smart feeders to increase lemur activity and stimulate human interest. The project is currently at 62% funded and they need about $1000.00 more for the project to get the go ahead (as of Sept 9th, 2015). There's only 7 days left and I REALLY REALLY WANT TO SEE THIS PROJECT TAKE OFF.

This project is now 100% funded. Congrats lemurs!

Ring-tailed lemur using smart feeder. Photo by Dr. Karin Jaffe
Would you please help back this project by donating? Watch the video below and then follow this link to donate.






1 comment:

Karin said...

Thank you Prancing Papio for your post! Our project has been fully funded and we are excited to begin the enrichment phase of our research project!