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Category — Animal Sciences

The Language of Training

Some animals I work with aren’t exactly stellar students.  If trainers could choose their pupils, they would be animals that have the ability and excel at problem solving.  Those that don’t fear change and will ask questions.  The animals with the ability to do that in their daily life are usually the hunters of the world.  Those that have to be able to look at a situation and decide what is the best tactic to and timing to “win.”  Most animals that are predators use problem solving skills everyday.  It’s the ability and desire to figure out the best scenario to get the food that makes predators much easier animals to train, generally speaking.

Giraffe exhibiting "flight" behavior.

What makes prey animals more difficult to train?  I would put the prey animals in flight and family categories. [Read more →]

March 8, 2013   2 Comments

Penelope Goes to Knoxville

Petting Penelope

I’m traveling back to Cincinnati from The Knoxville Zoo with Dawn, our head nursery and quarantine keeper. About 9 months ago, Dawn got to hand raise our three bat eared foxes, Frankie, George and Penelope. My first blog for the Zoo was about training Frankie and George. Penelope wasn’t mentioned because she was being trained to go to the Knoxville Zoo as an ambassador animal for their education programs. [Read more →]

February 9, 2013   1 Comment

Three Little Pigs!

Meet Cinder, Thatcher, and Magnolia – our three little pigs. Domestic pigs bred for their small size, they are mini Juliana pigs and will only grow up to about 50 lbs. Thatcher is the spotted male with the blue harness. Magnolia is the spotted female with the purple harness. Cinder is a reddish-brown male.

Thatcher and Magnolia

Thatcher and Magnolia

The pigs live in the Children’s Zoo and can be seen walking around the park with their trainers. At just about 10 weeks old, they are still learning what it’s all about. I’m lucky enough to be on Cinder’s training team.

Giving Cinder a good scratch on the rump

Giving Cinder a good scratch on the rump

This morning we took them for an early morning walk before it got too hot. We stopped to play on the central lawn where the pigs discovered a sprinkler.

Magnolia and Thatcher get a drink from the sprinkler.

Magnolia and Thatcher get a drink from the sprinkler.

Pigs are social by nature. They are curious, intelligent, and easy to train.

Here Eunice is cueing Magnolia to sit. She is rewarded with grain pellets.

Here Eunice is cueing Magnolia to sit. She is rewarded with grain pellets.

Thatcher and Magnolia will soon be showing off their skills in the Barnyard Bonanza show, and Cinder will be out and about meeting and greeting guests. Keep an eye out for them next time you’re at the Zoo!

June 28, 2012   4 Comments