Tweeting badger

A badger on Twitter? Why not? That was the thinking at the Johannesburg Zoo, which was seeking to incorporate new media in its campaigns. Now BG, the honey badger, speaks - tweets - for the zoo.
BG, @zootweetslive #tweetingbadger, already has a large number of followers. According to the zoo, BG is the perfect candidate for the job. He is active by day and by night, and has a charming personality. He sends off a variety of messages, tweeting about such subjects as zoo activities and the visitors he sees walk by his enclosure. BG also likes to express his opinion about other animals in the zoo, or about the food he is given. Sometimes he even tells a bad joke.

How does BG do this? His high-tech enclosure plays a key role in the process, as it has been fitted with a number of motion sensors. These wireless sensors communicate with a station outside the enclosure. The information travels from the station to a server on which a database of ‘pre-written’ tweets is stored. When BG activates a motion sensor near his food bowl, for example, a tweet about food is sent.

Finding and making the right materials and technology was a big challenge. BG is a friendly animal, but badgers are both strong and inventive, and very good at destroying things. The sensors are enclosed in Perspex, an extremely strong material, so BG cannot gnaw on them.

Here are a few examples of BG’s tweets:

Tweeting Badger: A granny! My favourite! Think I’m gonna run around a bit, act cute, maybe roll in the dirt. They love that kinda stuff.

Tweeting Badger: You can hypnotise a frog by putting it on its back and stroking its tummy, but I can’t usually wait that long.