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Virtual Prey Coming Soon to Melbourne Zoo

INDUSTRY SECTOR: ANIMAL HUSBANDRY

Feeding time will soon be much more interesting for Snow Leopards, Sumatran Tigers and African Wild Dogs at Melbourne Zoo, thanks to Tekt Industries.

Soon these animals will be able to “hunt” their food, with the introduction of a new system of speakers and motion sensors that will simulate prey in their exhibits. When the system is activated, the animals are led on a chase around their exhibit through an innovate combination of speakers and motion sensors, which play sounds of prey animals as though they are running around the enclosure. When the big cat or dog reaches the final station, up to 1kg of raw meat is delivered via a chute.

The system will be customisable, portable, wireless, weather resistant and able to be programmed and activated using an android tablet.

This new program could have profound effects on the health of the Zoo’s leopards, tigers and wild dogs. Not only will they be motivated to exercise more, they could also see huge benefits for their mental health from the challenge, mental stimulation, autonomy and opportunity to engage in hunting behaviours that the program will provide.

This program is also hoped to increase the public’s engagement with the Zoo and these endangered animals. The resulting funding and awareness would be a welcome addition to the Zoo’s existing conservation efforts.

The Hunting Enrichment program will be installed in the mid-2018. Tekt Industries has donated $31,675 of engineering time and materials to help realise this project.