Training with Sven and Olaf
Hi everyone, I am baa-aa-ack again welcoming some new animals to our area! If you saw my recent #TakeoverTuesday, I introduced everyone to our two new Gulf Coast Native lambs, Sven and Olaf! Now that they have been here awhile, met some of us on their care team, met our herd and met you, our lovely guests, they are ready to begin their training! Here at Zoo Atlanta we train our animals using positive reinforcement; this allows them to participate in their own health care. With brand-new animals, our first steps in training them is to write what is called a shaping plan. A shaping plan is basically a written-out step-by-step plan to teach an animal a new behavior. For example, I wrote a shaping plan for Olaf to train “target” with him. Once Olaf learns “target,” he will know when I present a closed fist to him that he will need to touch his nose to my fist to receive a reward. “Target” is one of the most basic behaviors and is a good one to start with because once animals know this behavior, they can learn other behaviors at a quicker pace.
Training Sven and Olaf has been a lot of fun because they are very food-motivated! While this helps their training by encouraging them to participate, it also can have a negative impact. Just as many of you have experienced with new puppies or kittens, undesirable behaviors can tend to pop up. With Sven we noticed that if we did not give him grain he would jump up on us. Luckily, we knew just what to do and ignored that behavior and did not reward Sven unless he had all four of his hooves on the ground. Sven is learning quickly and is now progressing wonderfully through his training! We can’t wait to show all of you the new behaviors our lambs are learning here at Zoo Atlanta!
Keeper I, Ambassador Animals