ABQ BioPark Zoo First in the Nation to Use New Feeding Technology

Remote and timed feeding to help encourage animals' natural foraging behaviors

The ABQ BioPark Zoo can now feed its animals even when zookeepers are off site, and it's the first zoo in the United States to use this technology.

The Zoo recently installed four feedpods stations in the elephant habitat and will install four more throughout primates in the gorilla, orangutan and chimpanzee habitats. The remaining two will be installed in the zebra and rhinoceros habitats.

With the help of feedpods, zookeepers will use an automatic timer to feed animals throughout the day and night. They can also feed animals remotely from their mobile phone.

The technology will help promote foraging behavior among animals.

"Using technology to better the lives of animals in ways we didn't even dream of 20 years ago is super exciting for us," said Rhonda Saiers, Elephant Manager at the ABQ BioPark. "It's creating opportunities for the animals to make good decisions. This will help us encourage foraging throughout the day and night."

According to Saiers, elephants can spend up to 15 hours a day foraging, including periods throughout the night. The elephant crew will use the automatic timing feature to encourage this natural behavior. Debbie Wiese, Zookeeper Supervisor, echoed the concept of promoting foraging behaviors for the primates using the automatic timer.

In addition, keepers can reinforce behaviors without animals associating food with humans. For instance, elephant zookeepers can watch the elephants on a camera from their office - if they see a behavior that they would like to reward, they can release food using their cell phone.

The feedpods were funded by a donor through the New Mexico BioPark Society.

Feedpods is based out of Dublin, Ireland, and a representative from the company came to Albuquerque to facilitate the setup of feedpods units.