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The King of Dinosaurs

Training and Enrichment in the Wildlife Center

At the Perkins Wildlife Center, there's more to animal care than feeding time and cleaning cages

July 4, 2012
Melissa Terwilliger
Wildlife Specialist and Training Coordinator

We never train our animals to do “tricks”. The behaviors that we train our animals to do either mimic natural behaviors, allow us to give them medical care, or keep both animals and keepers from harm’s way. Continuously teaching new behaviors and practicing the already learned behaviors help to keep an animal’s body and mind physically and mentally healthy. Training with the animals is one of the most important parts of our day!

Many of our animals are kennel trained, which allows us to easily transport them to the vet without handling them. Our larger mammals are also station trained. This means that they know to wait at a certain station or area when the keepers enter the enclosure. This not only keeps us a safe distance from the animals, it also helps deter food aggression between animals sharing the same exhibit.

“Target” training is another behavior learned by many of our animals. By “targeting” to a ball on a pole, an animal can be moved from location to location within their enclosure. This is important because if anything harmful ever gets thrown into one of the exhibits or something dangerous is discovered inside (a beehive, for example), an animal can be moved out of the area quickly and easily.

Teaching our animals different behaviors also strengthens their relationships with us!

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