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UTC Engineering Students Create 'Toys' for Zoo Animals
The many animals at the Chattanooga Zoo recently received creative enrichment items -- some might call them "toys" -- designed by University of Tennessee Chattanooga (UTC) Engineering students. Thanks to these students, many of the Zoo’s residents will be treated to an assortment of new, educational materials over the next few weeks.
The term “enrichment” refers to any stimulating activities, toys, games or food that allow animals to demonstrate species-typical behavior or exercise control over their environment. Experts say it enhances their physical, mental and emotional well-being. Enrichment can be auditory, olfactory and/or visual and often involves the introduction of novel objects and food. Examples of the enrichment created by UTC Engineering students include puzzle feeders, scratching posts, scent tubes, trapeze, rattles and more.
Throughout the spring semester UTC Engineering students made multiple visits to the Chattanooga Zoo to meet with animal care staff, observe animals and create appropriate enrichment materials.
“We are extremely impressed by the amount of energy and creativity that the UTC Engineering students brought to this project,” notes Darde Long, Zoo CEO.
UTC Professor of Engineering, Dr. Cecelia Wigal, adds that, “designing and building devices for the Zoo’s animals allow students to develop working solutions for real customers with real problems. Having animals who respond with so much enthusiasm has been a plus. The students’ have matched that enthusiasm and have greatly enjoyed producing products that help their local Zoo.”
Students will present their designs at the College Project Showcase on Wed. April 17th from 4-6 pm at the UTC Engineering School.
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