Students from UC were tasked with designing enrichment devices for Zoo animals during a special class last year. One of the devices, a complex feeder, is now being used by the Zoo’s giraffes! The feeder has a timed motor that makes available a new quadrant of food at set intervals, extending feeding behavior duration throughout the day and at night.
UC students worked with the giraffe care team to create a feeder that these gentle giants could use for years to come. Clear Plexi was used in hopes to one day place it somewhere visible to guests so they can see how giraffe use their tongues! A giraffe’s tongue is between 18 and 20 inches long and is prehensile, which allows it to grasp and pull leaves into their mouths. The tongue’s dark purplish color is meant to prevent sunburn. Thick saliva protects the giraffe’s tongue from the thorns of its favorite food source, the acacia tree. They spend much of the day feeding and can eat up to 75 pounds a day!
More photos from the installation: