CINCINNATI – When you visit the Cincinnati Zoo, you might not think about the animals going for an exam.
It’s a crucial part of keeping your favorite faces for years to come. Some UC graduates have been able to go a long way in extending their health.
Jack Buehler is a member of the industrial design team at the zoo.
“I didn’t come to UC as a designer because I thought I was going to be working on a project with the zoo,” he said.
But that is exactly what Bühler and his team did … twice.
“It was definitely an extraordinary experience and opportunity,” said Ben Merk, the project’s engineer.
Before graduating as a great ape, they started an interactive giraffe feeding system in 2019, which they continued to pursue after the mission ended.
“Think of the end user, the giraffe and the zookeeper. Think about what they would need and what they would want, ”said Merk.
But the zoo had more to do for the team after helping the giraffes.
“He asked us if we’d like to look at another project they had at the zoo,” said Bühler.
This project consisted of figuring out how to measure blood pressure for the orangutans whose arms were too small to fit in the machine used for gorillas. Instead of a completely new system, they developed a series of inserts of varying sizes.
“It was definitely a challenge to find out what would be the best and best for the zoo animals if you couldn’t really communicate with them like you could with a typical human,” said Merk.
The team eventually designed five different inserts to suit the different animals using a special type of 3D printing that allowed for the most accurate reading.
For Bühler, an aspiring toy designer, this was solid practice.
“This is definitely something I never really thought about before, but the more we got into it, the more it made sense,” he said.
As a native of Cincinnati, it’s a memory he’ll share for years to come.
“When I tell someone that I’ve worked with giraffes or orangutans, there is no other feeling,” says Bühler. “It’s very strange, but in a really great way.”