See the products of a design class geared to the needs of wild clients.

Audrey and Wildcat, a pair of North American river otters, come bounding into their habitat oblivious to the students from the Columbus College of Art & Design, who watch expectantly. With urging from a zoo staff member, the otters investigate a cardboard tower made by student Abigail Allen. One of the otters devours the fish sticking through slits in the sides, and someone cheers when the structure topples.

The students are taking a course on animal enrichment design, or crafting interactive objects for wildlife. Basically, otters are the clients, says instructor Charlotte Belland, who created the class last year with help from the staff at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Allen, who also made different enrichment devices for other animals, hopes to become a professional designer of pet products. “When I saw this class existed, I got so excited,” she says.

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