"If it were not for TechSoup we probably would have had to continue to use our mobile phones or maybe added just one or two more cameras. But having the number of cameras that we do makes our job much much easier."

— Hillary Hempstead, marketing manager

Lights! Camera! Action!
Zoo Animals Become Movie Stars at CuriOdyssey

Did you know that its possible to teach a porcupine to paint? It's true! And while this is not the primary focus of CuriOdyssey, it is just one of the many fun family-focused ways that this hands-on science and wildlife organization entertains and educates. "We're trying to grow future innovators," says Hillary Hempstead, marketing manager. And since 1954 this San Mateo, California, wildlife habitat and science museum has been luring guests young and old to experience physics, chemistry, biology, and the sciences. While much is to be gleamed from a visit to the museum, it has always strived to continue teaching beyond its four walls. 

Recently this mission has gone full color, quite literally, with the help of Flip cameras. Seven wildlife staff take pleasure in recording daily enrichment activities for the animals and posting the videos to YouTube. Anyone anywhere can view bobcats playing in a pool, birds having a shower, or Peanut the porcupine dipping paws into paint and onto paper. Staff are able to record everything that's going on with the Flip cameras.

The increased volume of cameras, and having them readily accessible has been very key. It puts the power into the keepers' hands, says Hempstead. She notes that before the cameras, which were made possible through a TechSoup donation, zookeepers relied on their mobile phones to catch animals being cute. The phones were slow, often cumbersome, and limited on storage space.

The museum is also exploring how best to outfit wireless access points directly into the animals' habitats for full-time, always-on viewing. They want to start broadcasting them even when they are not open, so that every animal in the zoo can be a star.