Elephant Pellet Dispersal Unit

Project number: 
Reid Park Zoo
Academic year: 
Elephants walk extreme distances to forage for food in wild habitats. To simulate a more realistic environment for the elephants at the Reid Park Zoo, the team created a device that uses a programmable control system to distribute food pellets throughout the elephant habitat. The device can operate in harsh Arizona weather conditions and includes a refillable hopper to minimize zookeeper interaction with the animals. The remotely operable device aims to further the realism of the elephant habitat by encouraging more elephant exercise, requiring them to search for food rather than depending on human interaction. The most important design constraint was ensuring that the device does not cause any harm or distress to the elephants.

To allow zookeepers to easily operate the system, the unit includes a touchpad interface to program launch times, distance and angle; a remote to initiate launches from a distance; a large-capacity storage hopper; and a pneumatic pellet launching mechanism.

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