Hoist UK provides automated feeding solution for elephants at Blackpool Zoo

Award Winning industrial equipment supplier Hoist UK have provided an automated feeding solution for the Project Elephant Base Camp at Blackpool Zoo. The new system is designed to automatically feed the elephants sporadically throughout the day, encouraging natural feeding behaviours.

Adam Kenyon, Head of Elephants at Blackpool Zoo commented: “By having a system like this, the elephants are stimulated, and it helps provide a more natural feeding pattern for them. We can’t provide the wild in its exact form, but with this system we can provide the means to encourage their natural behaviours, as we strive for optimal welfare standards. I look forward to working with Hoist UK again as the herd grows in the future.”

Hoist UK had to create a feeding system that would remove the association between the sound of the hoist engaging and being fed; whilst still feeding the elephants with motorised electric chain hoists. The system had to be automated to allow sporadic feeding times which often fell outside zoo keeper working hours. The hoists needed to be quiet to ensure the elephants wouldn't be alerted.

Most importantly installing this job around live animals, work could only be completed when the elephants were in their outdoor area, so Hoist UK engineers visits needed to be carefully coordinated around the elephants daily activities.

James Jordan director of Hoist UK: “We’re very proud to provide be of assistance to the exciting Project elephant - Base Camp at Blackpool Zoo. This was a very unusual challenge and I’m pleased our team were able to help solve this unique problem for these endangered animals”

A 7 inch HMI touch screen controller with a simple to operate graphic user interface was installed to control the hoists. This system had the ability to manually control the hoists alongside the feature to automate feeding times. Using this system, the zoo keepers were able to program automatic feeding times, sporadically throughout the day.

Additionally, a 2 position system was set. 1 position would be lowering the food halfway into the elephant enclosure leaving it out of the elephants reach. The 2nd position lowering it fully. The continued use of these two positions would encourage the elephants to disassociate the sound of the motorised hoist with being fed and create more natural feeding behaviour amongst the herd.

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