Clay Nesler and a student team from The University of Illinois at Urbana Campaign School of Engineering designed and built the ‘Comfort Branch’ for LCF. Uniquely, our reserve in Myakka City provides free-ranging forest habitat for several species of lemurs. One challenge faced by reserves, and zoos, is creating habitat that provides animals with an optimal environment for their health and comfort. The ‘Comfort Branch’ is a thermo-regulation prototype designed for the forest at LCF’s Myakka City Reserve. It helps maintain correct temperature through innovative use of higher performance solar cells thermo-electric cooling elements in a naturalistic ‘branch’ installed in the forests.
The project is developed for LCF by Clay Nesler, with funding from Shell Corporation and patent contributions by Johnson Controls. Mr. Nesler is a part-time Florida Gulf Coast resident, VP for Global Energy and Sustainability at Johnson Controls, and Alumni Board Member at the University of Illinois Urbana – Champaign School of Engineering. The prototype will be installed in the Toomey Forest, home to mongoose, ring-tailed, and red ruffed lemurs. After testing at the reserve, Comfort Branch kits will be available for purchase by other facilities, making the Comfort Branch both an innovation in animal management, a renewable project with respect to the environment, and, upon completion of our field test, a sustainable revenue source for LCF.