Skunk Works Out in Giant Wheel, Gets Fit

Lily the skunk was getting a bit round in the middle, and one of our amazing Houston Zoo volunteers came up with an ingenious solution – a giant wheel for her to jog in! Check out her workout:


When Lily was about a year old, keeper Stephanie Turner noted she had begun to put on a bit of weight. In addition to making healthy changes to her diet, she pondered a few ways for her to get more exercise. Volunteer Matthew Griffiths came up with a wild idea that had never been tried; a giant exercise wheel. If hamsters like running in wheels, why not skunks? Matthew had constructed a few items before as part of his volunteer work caring for zoo animals, but nothing this complex, and nobody was sure if the skunk would use it. Everyone was enthusiastic about the possibility, and Matthew spent several weeks designing and building a prototype.

The finished wheel is a combination of metal and 3D-printed plastic. Stephanie and Matthew set it up in Lilly’s room, and her natural curiosity took over – she hopped in to investigate. She grasped almost immediately how the wheel worked, and started regular walks and the occasional jog.

Lily’s enthusiasm for the wheel was so great that she wore out the original hollow shafts supporting the wheel; Matthew quickly replaced them and a few other small parts with sturdier pieces. The revised design has held up for more than six months of skunk workouts.

The best news is that Lily reached a healthy weight by the end of the summer, and has kept the weight off. Matthew is contemplating additions to the wheel such as a mile counter, and he’s pondering what other animals might enjoy a giant wheel to run in – mongoose wheel perhaps?

You won’t see Lily on exhibit in the Children’s Zoo; she’s a handling animal that comes out for the occasional Keeper Talk in the Children’s Zoo or a show at the Butterfly Stage. Her room and remarkable exercise wheel are tucked away in a private spot behind the scenes.

Houston Zoo volunteer Matthew Griffiths poses with exercise wheel he constructed using 3D printed parts for Lily the skunk.
Houston Zoo volunteer Matthew Griffiths poses with exercise wheel he constructed using 3D printed parts for Lily the skunk.


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Keep the animals warm!

Why? What's goin on!?

Stay warm as you take care of our lovely zoo and it’s residents❤️

Misty Flanigan no zoo for Connor

Thank you to all the wonderful staff that went in to take care of their critter babies! Be safe!

Stay warm sweet animals 🦁🐯🐒🦆🐅🐆🦓🦏🐘🦍🦒

Too cold! Good idea.

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We are open on this beautiful Monday! Get out and enjoy the weather before it gets extra chilly this week.

 

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Giraffe feeding was awesome! Only wished we were given even more lettuce!

Had a great time today

We are here. 😀

Don't miss out before we turn off the lights! This is the last weekend for TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights. Bundle up, grab your friends and family and join us for Houston's favorite hoilday tradition.

We even have a special discount to end the season. For just $9 per person, you get to see all two million lights, Candy the Zoo Lights Zebra, and musical reflection pool! zoolights.houstonzoo.org/get-tickets/
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Dont miss out before we turn off the lights! This is the last weekend for TXU Energy Presents Zoo Lights. Bundle up, grab your friends and family and join us for Houstons favorite hoilday tradition. 

We even have a special discount to end the season. For just $9 per person, you get to see all two million lights, Candy the Zoo Lights Zebra, and musical reflection pool! https://zoolights.houstonzoo.org/get-tickets/

 

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My daughter lost her FAVORITE stuffed animal last night. We were there after 8:30. Please contact me if found. She is very very sad

Dianne Ramboer Dunn and Wendy Martinez we're going tonight! Maybe I'll go live for you, grandma! : )

We visited today for daughters 3rd birthday, thank you we had a great day. It was a bit cold so we bundled up and enjoyed the zoo being so quiet, we got to feed giraffes twice! Would recommend!

How is it $9?

Cuanto esta la eñtrada y ban estar las luces mañana para ir com mi familia?

When is the last day to see the lights?

Lupe Mcmillon you should take Emma and Ethan

Aldo Castellanos Isabel Zamarripa-Hernandez Juan Francisco Hernandez $9 el boleto, que dicen?? Este es el último fin de semana

Busca quien nos lleve jajaja Socorro Garcia Ponce 🤣😂

Patricia Lozada tomorrow at 6pm meet us there? :0)

Debbie R Hernandez-Sanchez

Angel Rodriguez

Roxy AR

Valarie Ann Romero

Enrique Gonzalez last chance

Erica Villarreal 9$

Kayla Fitzpatrick

Macie Quick

Callie Wade

Hina Suleman

Griseldaa Chavezz

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