Dubois, A. 2020. Developing and evaluating the impact of an automatic food dispenser on Potos flavus and Vulpes zerda. RATEL (Journal of the Association of British and Irish Wild Animal Keepers) 47(1), 12-16.
Automatic feeders have already been developed by different institutions and companies. Feedpods are a perfect example of an elaborate manufactured device. They are currently used in many institutions with satisfying results. One of the main drawbacks fir acquiring such a device is the cost – even the smaller structures – and can be confined to one exhibit. This project was an opportunity to develop a more affordable option for small-scale models that could be implemented in multiple exhibits. The development of an affordable automatic feeder started with the objective of impacting the activity of two different species of small carnivore. With the results gathered during this project, it is possible to affirm that positive outcomes have been achieved. For the kinkajou and the use of this device in a nocturnal situation, frequency of behaviours have not only increased, but also diversity of behaviours over time. In fact, eating behaviours were not only observed during the first hour (as was the case before the installation of the automatic feeder) but for up to three hours. In a diurnal situation, similar results were obtained with the two fennec foxes. Both their active and eating behaviours increased as food was more often available during the day, between the routine feedings carried out by the keeper at the beginning and the end of the day. Animals were eating the food falling from the device separately or together.