Rice OEDK workforce produces new feeding system for Houston Zoo’s purple river hogs | Rice News | News and Media Relations

Just steps away from Rice University, you can fulfill Neptune, Luna, Vidalia, Artemis and Ophelia, the Houston Zoo’s resident red river hogs.

In the wild, pink river hogs expend about 80% of their time foraging for foodstuff. At the zoo, it is crucial for these extremely intelligent animals to have engaging feeders that obstacle them to hunt.

That is exactly where Rice’s Intro to Engineering Style and design class arrives in.

More than the years, the college and its Oshman Engineering Layout Kitchen area have partnered with the zoo on a variety of tasks, from a fish-gratifying enrichment device for sea lions to a protective brooder box for exotic newborn birds . The Red River Bandits team — produced up of soaring sophomores Eleanor Kimbro, Alice Owens and Amanda Simpson and rising junior Tori Payne — was charged with building a new feeder for the hogs.

“We like to partner with the Rice engineering method,” explained Kim Siegl, a keeper in the hoofstock division at the zoo. “The pupils appear up with distinctive thoughts and methods of constructing assignments that are past my particular skill as a zookeeper to assume of and have the development talents to do.”

“This task has been a wonderful opportunity to implement 4 primary views to a tangible and functional structure undertaking,” Simpson stated.


The Pink River Bandits made a multilevel feeder manufactured of PVC pipe, with wire that enables it to cling and quickly be accessed by the hogs. The product is made to distribute food items when the animals engage with it.

“The hogs are meant to strike the base of the gadget in which the feed pellets from the incredibly leading distribute through the circular levels in the holes that are 180 levels aside from each other, to be ready to distribute all over the base holes of the unit,” mentioned Payne, a biosciences important.

“The feeding time with some of the recent feeders, which are rolling feeders that the hogs force all over to distribute food stuff, will take about five minutes,” explained Owens, a mechanical engineering important. “What Kim truly wanted from us was a feeder that was heading to elongate that feeding time, if attainable, up to about 15 minutes while rising their physical action.”

“There are clearly exclusive issues with every task, and the major 1 for us was not realizing accurately how our buyers, the hogs, would interact with the system,” stated Kimbro, a bioengineering major.

Although the hogs have been a little bit nervous to use the feeder for the to start with time, a reaction Siegl stated was ordinary, they finally engaged with the device. The college students hope that around time it will grow to be a normal portion of their feeding schedule.