Tweeting-badger (1)

To help build their online presence, The Joburg Zoo has launched a campaign featuring the world’s first live-tweeting badger. With the help of some smart thinking and innovative technology BG, the zoo’s mascot and resident honey badger, has added ‘official Social Media spokesanimal’ to his CV. BG was selected because of his outgoing personality, love of people, and the fact that he is the official mascot for the Johannesburg Zoo.

The combined Hellocomputer/Draftfcb team, with some help from BinarySpace, rigged up some infrared sensors in BG’s enclosure that pick up his location and automatically trigger tweets from his Twitter account, detailing exactly what he’s up to or thinking at that very moment.
The sensors are motion-triggered, badger-friendly, and have been installed at several places outside of BG’s enclosure. If you didn’t know, honey badgers are pretty wily creatures that are not only talented climbers, but are also expert ‘openers of things’. This is why the sensors were attached at the far end of 60cm aluminium beams, safely out of BG’s inquisitive reach. Far away from any shelter or electrical sockets these sensors are not only sheltered in waterproof encasings, but are also battery operated, switching on only when motion is detected in the enclosure.

They connect wirelessly to an on-site base station located on the roof his porcupine neighbours’ roof. (The first base station was on his roof, but on the very first day he scaled the story-high climb and loosened its bolts – naughty) And why on the roof? The base station is solar paneled, so it’s entirely self-sufficient and can remain permanently switched on. Acting as the bridge between the sensors and Twiter, the base station is wirelessly connected to the agency’s server where the database of pre-written tweets is hosted. As BG moves around his camp, he trips the sensors, which then send relevant tweets.

Johannesburg Zoo’s Brand & Communications Manager, Letta Madlala said, “While several of BG’s tweets will address his daily activities – such as his walks around the zoo which he takes on a lead, his mealtimes and his play times – we will obviously also be able to get him to promote special events at the Zoo and, when relevant, comment on current events.”

Follow BG at @zootweetslive or by following #tweetingbadger on Twitter.

For a breakdown of the tech, written in proper geek speak, click here.