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Training at ZoFo

Posted on: December 10th, 2018

Last month, our sanctuary manager, Anna, attended a week long course at the Denver Zoo titled, “Animal Training Applications in Zoo and Aquarium Settings.” Taught by experienced animal training professionals, participants learned about the history, theories, and skills necessary to train animals in a captive facility.

After participating in the course, Anna returned to ZoFo and created an animal husbandry training plan to implement with the animals at the sanctuary. Anna states, “the most important things I want the animals to gain from this program are animal-human bonds and confidence. Many of our animals have come from unfortunate circumstances and are shy or afraid. Training can encourage the animals to trust their caretakers, gives them the power to participate in their care, and helps them to be more flexible and open to new or unusual experiences.” Additional benefits to training include exercise, mental stimulation, reduction in stress, aiding in daily care, voluntary participation in health checks and vet visits, increased safety during animal/human interactions, participating in educational scenarios, and more!

Anna’s plan will start with the basics. First, all of our animals will be trained in easy behaviors such as stationing, target training, or even simply paying attention to the trainer. These behaviors will then help shape bigger behaviors such as crating, scale training, loading onto a trailer, and vaccination training. It is important to note that this is a long term plan and every animal will go at their own pace. Behaviors such as vaccination training (voluntary injections) may take a year or two depending on how much time our staff has the individual animal’s needs. Stay tuned for training updates as our staff undergoes this new adventure!

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