When it comes to the Program Animals Team, summertime means one thing – a new season in the World of Wild and Amy’s Tree Theaters!
We’re always working on new things, and this year, we have something big. Our World of Wild Theater sponsored by Georgia Natural Gas is now presenting Birdbook Live! This is YOUR opportunity to submit a question to us on social media, and then we’ll answer that question in our shows. Have a question about birds? Have a question about helping birds around the world? This is your chance to ask it! Just use #Birdbooklive and tag Zoo Atlanta on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
Even if you don’t have a question, this year’s presentation offers some new changes. As always, we have a few new behaviors and even some new animals. Were you one of the people who voted on the name of Rwenzori, our baby milky eagle owl, last year? Well, he’s all grown up this year and appearing in some of our shows. You might even have a chance to see our Pie Rats – Apple, Pecan, Rhubarb and Chicken Pot! With a new script comes new opportunities to learn awesome things about birds – and hopefully a few new laughs, too.
What you won’t see is all the work that goes into starting up these presentations. Training of new behaviors starts months in advance. For example, our African grey parrot, Larry, has learned to take donations from our guests to raise money for parrot conservation. We started training him at the beginning of March. Because he had learned to put a washer in a bowl many years ago, we were able to switch that behavior to putting dollars in a box with just a week of training. After that, it still took over a month before we had guests participating with Larry. That month was spent teaching Larry that it was OK to take dollars offered by people other than his keepers. In fact, all of our animals learn a behavior in an empty theater first, then are trained to do the same behavior with new people in the area. It may seem like the same behavior to you or me, but to a bird, it’s different!
Of course, the birds aren’t the only ones getting trained. So are the people! Everyone has new scripts to learn. For some of our younger keepers, they also need to learn new bird behaviors. The behaviors aren’t new for the birds, but these keepers haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to work with the behaviors in a show. It’s not as easy as the “old-timers” make it look! Between training birds, staff and interns, the keepers keep busy as bees in the months leading up to summer.
As Program Animal Keepers work at both the World of Wild and the Amy’s Tree Teaters, we focus on only one new script a year. If you didn’t get a chance to see Animal Adventures last year, you’ve got another shot this year. If you did see it, swing on back, anyway. We’re adding new animals to the show all the time. See if you can spot one of them!
Whichever show(s) you go to, we’re looking forward to seeing you there!
Keeper III, Program Animals