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Listening To Our Animals

cougar_exhibit

With Joseph in the cougar exhibit.

As an animal trainer or even a pet owner the most important thing you can do with your animal is to listen to them. I don’t mean physically having the ability to listen to them, but rather your willingness to sit, watch, and listen. In my blog post last week it was very clear that listening to an animal I work with can be imperative – it can save your life. Like listening to Makine, my rehab Java Macaque. The keepers and staff at the Cincinnati Zoo also listen to and know their animals. A clear example of keepers knowing their animals and listening to them is found in the story of the design of the Zoo’s cougar exhibit.

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Joseph as a cub.

When I was helping to raise the cougars, “Joseph” and “Tecumseh,” we had a strict schedule of exercise, enrichment, training, and play. Each day we would go for multiple walks, exercise them in the Cheetah Encounter yard, play with them, and even nap with them. We had to build a very strong bond with these animals so they could be transferred to their new enclosure and feel safe and secure. The only way to do this was to spend the time with them so even if they were worried they would trust their trainers and look to them for guidance. We wanted them to know if we weren’t worried about something, they didn’t need to be either. The only way to get that response and trust from them was to spend every day, all day, with them. Rough job, I know. [Read more →]

March 22, 2013   No Comments

Cat Canyon Construction Continues

With beautiful weather like today, the construction crew down at Cat Canyon is busy. The snow leopard and tiger enclosures are really starting to take shape and the tiger viewing shelter is going up. Most of the public paths have been paved and the footers are in for the tiger sculpture and an artificial tree sporting claw marks. Horticulture has started bringing in plants and getting ready to landscape. Next week the sound system and speakers will go in and we’ll start planning where to pipe in the tiger roars and such. Our signs are still in production, which is fine because they are usually the last elements to be installed. See how the exhibit construction is coming along for yourself in Thane’s latest video.

May 18, 2012   No Comments

The Importance of Spring Flowers

If it were all about us, then spring flowers, despite the fact that they are often weak in color, low to the ground, spidery in appearance, or even just oddly formed catkins, would simply represent the coming of a new season. That, indeed, the planet had finally righted its wobble, temporarily at least, and tilted us toward the sun a little more so that our backs hunch a bit less, our muscles relax some, and smiles come a little easier to our faces. [Read more →]

March 11, 2011   No Comments