Giraffe cam installed by Alltech at the Topeka Zoo

Topeka Zoo Unveils an Unseen World Through Zoo Cams While Increasing Safety and Security

Alltech has been helping the Topeka Zoo improve its day-to-day operations with the installation of multiple security cameras. This technology is instrumental for safer working and living conditions for both the animals at the Topeka Zoo as well as the zookeepers, veterinarians and other staff.

A key figure behind the Zoo Cam project is Brian Hall, Alltech’s senior technology manager. Hall brings 22 years of experience in the security and technology industry from previously working with large retailers such as Kohl’s, Lowes and Target.

“This started with having a conversation with zoo leadership and understanding what they needed from both a security standpoint and an operations standpoint,” Hall said.

The Topeka Zoo’s leadership worked closely with Hall to define the benefits cameras would have to all involved at the facility.

“A zookeeper or a veterinarian can monitor an elephant overnight from their home, for example,” Hall said. “They no longer have to get up at 3 am and come into the zoo. If the animal is sick, pregnant, anything like that, they can now pull up cameras at their home and make those judgment calls earlier.”

The cameras and software that Alltech has been installing in the Topeka Zoo over the course of the project are six megapixel or above, meaning that they are six times more clear than the one or two megapixel cameras a typical monitoring system might use.

These cameras have been used to ensure the safety of animals and zookeepers when enclosure doors are opening or closing. They’re also helpful when searching for a child within the facility.

“It’s a zoo. They have kids there all day long,” Hall said. “The staff can go to the camera system and help find where they have been. This camera system can help the Topeka Zoo respond to incidents quicker than they have ever been able to before.”

Alltech has also been behind the upgrades to the gates of the Topeka Zoo as well, exchanging the use of padlocks and keys to key fobs and mobile access. Hall says that this has been especially helpful when vendors need to deliver supplies. Instead of zoo staff having to spend time walking from one edge of the facility to the other, potentially stopping any care they are giving to animals, they can access cameras and audio systems at the gate from their mobile devices and complete deliveries without having to stop current tasks.

“You can imagine how much that cuts down stress for their employees and how much time that saves them,” Hall said.

Fawn Moser, deputy director for the Topeka Zoo, has been a dedicated employee of the zoo for more than three decades and has been overseeing the addition of new live-feed zoo cams to the facility.

“The new web cams allow viewers to be connected to nature in the Topeka Zoo,” Moser said. “Because we’re making animals more accessible, we’re building a desire within our Topeka community to learn more and build more empathy towards animals.”

Alltech has installed live-feed cameras in several exhibits to allow remote viewing to schools, the community, and the world. These cameras stream to the zoo’s YouTube channel without delay, potentially prompting viewers to want to see their favorite animals or habitat in person.

“A teacher could pull up these live-view cameras and show animals to their class. That’s pretty powerful,” Hall said.

Much of the funding for this technology and installation came from grant applications, specifically for upgrades to security for both animals and staff. Hall says that these grants are hard to apply for if one doesn’t specifically know they exist, and he takes it upon himself, as does Alltech as a company, to help their customers find the funds to help secure their locations and make them safe for their customer’s staff and patrons.

“This is what Alltech does. We look for grants and share them with companies and organizations that would qualify and benefit by having these types of systems installed. It could be a zoo, church, school, a rescue mission,” said Hall. “It’s a huge deal for us to be able to help the Topeka Zoo like this.”

Hall describes Alltech as a very family-oriented business with multiple generations of employees working together. He believes that helping the Topeka Zoo achieve its goals helps make the community stronger and safer.

The technology used for the Zoo Cams is flexible and can be upgraded or expanded if the needs arise. For now, guests of the Topeka Zoo can enjoy viewing animals when they aren’t able to visit the zoo in person. The animals able to be viewed via the zoo’s website include giraffes, bears, patas monkeys, painted dogs and tigers.

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