Progressive & Thought Provoking Discussions about Wild & Domestic Animal Behavior, Animal Careers, Animal Training, & More!

E: Environment, Enrichment,
Education, & Endangered Species

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Welcome to E! This section is dedicated to the environment, enrichment, and education about animals and related topics. This page contains an introduction to enrichment.

Training IS Enrichment

Just over 20 years ago training was considered undesirable in the zoo environment. Now, along with environmental enrichment, it is being implemented in zoos across the nation. Did you know that training is enrichment? Read this short commentary about it.

One of my favorites, but not acceptable at all facilities. Training can greatly increase the intellectual focus of an animal. Strategies should be planned out to allow for variations in animal and handler skills. Plan a bunch of things, from husbandry care to shaping behaviors, to occupy and challenge the animal's mind. Ambassador animals have the best of all worlds by being able to experience new locations, people, scents, and situations.

When working on training/handling plan out at least twenty or more behaviors to train --in advance. Be sure to include denning behavior or crate training to help with on and off exhibit woes. Don't forget to ask for variations of the behavior, once it is completely trained.

For instance, try asking for the behavior in other locations, within or outside the exhibit; also vary the areas performed such as on solid land, water work, or arboreal work. Change can be stimulating for the animal so try the beach, grass, and other substrates or environments that you can access safely and easily. Get creative and combine behaviors or set your goals for small nuances of finely tuned behaviors. It will be good for you and the animal mentally!  

If you are interested in further assistance on any of the strategies you have read about, contact us and if you love learning about animals visit our blog.

About the columnist: Since 1978 Diana L. Guerrero has worked professionally with both wild and domestic animals. Guerrero has been affiliated with, and certified by, a variety of animal programs in the USA and Europe. Based in California, she writes, consults, and speaks. Information on her animal career programs, training courses, and her books {What Animals Can Teach Us about Spirituality (SkyLight Paths, 2003), Blessing of the Animals (Sterling, 2007), Help! My Pet is Driving Me Crazy (Guerrero Ink, 2007), Animal Disaster Preparedness for Pet Owners & Pet Professionals (Guerrero Ink, 2007)} can be found in this web site and in the shop. Questions for Guerrero should be submitted via the blog comments or membership forum.


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