These goats are made for walking
If you’ve been keeping up with the wonderful world of our petting zoo population, you’re likely familiar with Pickles, Avocado, and Wasabi. Our extremely precious Nigerian dwarf goat babies turn a year old THIS WEEK, but they’ve recently hit another exciting milestone: their first leash walk!
Walks around the Zoo are an exciting way to provide petting zoo animals like goats enrichment: not only do they get to explore new places and scents, but they receive mental stimulation from the training behaviors that enable them to go on these walks.
All husbandry behaviors at Zoo Atlanta are completely voluntary. In this case, Pickles, Avocado, and Wasabi have been working with their Care Team on voluntary haltering and loose leash training over the past few months. First, the girls learned to put their nose through the loop of the halter. Once they were consistently doing that, they were slowly desensitized to the halter being placed around their ears.
When the babies were comfortable and calm with this step, training moved on to fully clipping the halter and letting them wear it. After they were completely comfortable wearing the halter and moving around with it, leash training began. This mostly consisted of walking in the stalls with their keepers and receiving positive reinforcement (in this case treats) when they walked calmly and attentively.
All the hard work and preparation came to fruition last week when the girls were finally ready to embark on their first walk outside the Outback Station barn! Everyone did a great job!