Animals are learning
- Why should the animals in a zoo be learning anything? In order to remain untied and natural and at the same time to be able to find common ground with the keeper.
- Imagine a male elephant weighing several tonnes and you cannot enter his range for safety reasons. How would you treat his soles and how would you examine his mouth cavity? One of the possibilities is to anaesthetise him which represents a lot of effort for the vet, the keepers, it costs a lot of money and willy nilly it also represents some risk for the elephant. The other possibility is that the elephant simply comes willingly to the contact bar that separates him and the keeper. He puts his foot to the opened window and keeps it there until his hoof is treated. Then he puts there the other feet as well, opens the mouth so that it can be examined and at the end he can let the keeper take a blood sample from his ear. All of this can be done without any stress, voluntarily, just for “several bread rolls”.
- The method we are using is called POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT and the cornerstone of it is one common word between the keeper and the animal saying: “Now you did it right!“. According to the species, this “common word” can be a whistle, a clicker, a snap of fingers, a whistle by mouth, certain movement, light of a torch or really one particular word (such as “good”). As soon as there is a way how to communicate between the keeper and the animal, the animals will understand much more than you would expect.
Foto (c) Jiří Trojánek
We are using the training by the method of positive reinforcement at these species: