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New app giving zoo-goers a ‘personal connection’ to the animals

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People visiting the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park. Inset: Screenshot from app provided by city of Idaho Falls. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

IDAHO FALLS – The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park’s new app has been downloaded more than 1,500 times since it was launched last month, and zoo staff says the response has been positive.

Zoo Curator Sunny Katseanas tells EastIdahoNews.com the new app gives visitors a “personal connection” to the zoo family.

“Instead of just using the app as an education medium to learn about African lions, you’re going to use it to meet Hondo, our African male lion, and learn about what makes him so special and why he’s so unique,” Katseanas says.

As you walk around the zoo, you can scan the QR code at each animal exhibit and get specific information about that animal.

The app also includes video interviews with zookeepers and information about their conservation breeding program.

RELATED | App to take you behind the scenes at Idaho Falls Zoo

Zoo attendance is high this year, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, but the interaction between zoo staff and guests is limited. As a result, the app is the No. 1 way for people to connect with the zoo.

“Liiingo (the app developer) worked really well with us to connect the guests really closely with those animals, and people have enjoyed it,” she says. “It offers a lot for people to get a behind-the-scenes look at the zoo.”

Otter swimming at the Idaho Falls Zoo | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

Katseanas says updates and features are added constantly.

Representatives from Liiingo were at the zoo on Saturday to include information about new animals and interact with guests.

“The accessibility and making the most of the experience while people are here…is the biggest reason why we’re here,” Liiingo Creative Director Beth Layton says. “We love what they’re doing with conservation, and we want people to be more involved and come away with a sense of change and connectedness.”

Among the new animals this year are two female sloth bear cubs, a baby muntjac, a duiker and a pair of fennec foxes.

Katseanas hopes people will provide feedback on the app and let them know what new animals they’d like to see at the zoo.

“We didn’t plan for this (app to launch) during a global pandemic where we couldn’t interact with zoo guests as much as we do, so it came at a really nice time,” says Katseanas.

The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park is open seven days a week 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Visit the website or Facebook page for more information. Download the app here.

Turtle taking a stroll at the Idaho Falls Zoo. | Rett Nelson, EastIdahoNews.com

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