Zookeeper Understand the Psychology of Animal | A good training program is important to help zoos care for their charges. The animals in zoos are not trained for obedience, similar to our domesticated pets. Instead, they are being taught how to coordinate with their caretakers as part of their everyday routine.
Though many individuals think of ‘animal training’ as tying them with chains and whipping them as seen in old images, modern zoos look to opt for voluntarily and reward-based animal science courses that can improve training sessions to make them the best parts of an animal’s day.
How Does Animal Science Training Work?
The form of training that zoos use is exclusively known as ‘positive reinforcement training. This indicates that the trainer can add something to the interaction to make a specific behaviour occur again.
This can make sure that when an animal does anything that the trainer is looks for; they can make the animal know with a marker noise by saying yes, well, or with the use of a whistle and a clicker. After this, they reward those animals by providing them something that they like.
Though this type of animal science course online training sounds pretty natural and something that you might have done with your own pet animals, this is a heavily rooted thing in the science of how animals learn. Every animal learn in a similar pattern, anyone with is knowledgeable about the learning theory can apply a similar technique to train any other animal.
‘Positive reinforcement is known as one of the “quadrants” with regards to operant conditioning. Operant conditioning is a theory that is not specific to training, and it helps to define how animals will behave due to the consequences of their past actions.
Why is Primary Positive Reinforcement Needed?
Being one of the four quadrants, positive reinforcement is arguably the best method for forming behavioural change in an animal. While the other quadrants will change an animal’s behaviour when used properly, some of them can be unpleasant to animals.
Positive reinforcement is a quadrant through which you can easily communicate with any animal that you are train and what you need to do to be successful and reward the animal for making specific choices.
There is no confusion after being told what not to do without by providing information about what to do instead. There is also no brute physical manipulation or stressful handling by the trainer to achieve the behaviours of the animal they want.
If a certain animal in the zoo becomes confused or frustrated, the trainer returns to things the animal knows well until they successfully engage the animal again. After this, they go back to the last stage of their actions before the animal is confident with them again.
Such interactions can help to create a strong relationship between a trainer and their animal as the experience from the special animal science courses in Australia is created so that it can be a positive experience for the animal.
What Are the Types of Zoo Animals that Can be trained?
The best thing regarding the use of operant conditioning techniques for training animals is that they can be used for any animal species. The quadrants can help understand what kind of stimulus must be added or removed to specific situations to change behaviour of an animal.
It depends on the trainer to figure out what will be successful with any species that they want to work with. For doing so, a trainer must know more about the natural history of the animal species that they will train with certain personalities and preferences of the animal species that they will work with.
Animals such as snakes do not eat frequently, so a training plan needs to be made for them, and food-based reinforcers can be used once for a couple of days. Either this indicates that the trainer needs to find another reinforcer that the snake will work for, or they need to accept that training behaviour with that snake will take longer than for other animals.
Other animals might require different training session as their species may not allow them to perceive the “marker cue” that trainers use to tell them if they have completed certain behaviours properly.
What Are Zoo Animals Trained for?
An appropriate animal training program can help touch different aspects of a zoo animal’s life. Most of the training zoo animals engage in is modelled toward voluntary medical participation. Trained behaviours can also help to teach animals how to be better mothers and help their caretakers to complete their everyday routine.
It also allows animals to educate guests via a demonstration, helps move animals around the facility, and can sometimes be a fun and enriching activity for an animal to participate in.
Types of Animal Training
The types of animal training that may be taught in animal science colleges in Perth are as follows:
- Target training
This is one of the first behaviours that every zoo animal is taught, and it is a simple behaviour. In this behaviour, the animal is asked to touch a certain body part, mostly the nose, to any item that is depicted as the “target”.
Target training is one of the most common behaviours in Zoo training programs and is a building block for shaping behaviours that an animal can learn in its lifetime. This is also the type of training that are favourable to animals.
- Station training
This is another necessary behaviour that zoo animals learn early and is also known as a “station”. Stations are spots where animals are trained to go in line and stay there. A station can be a perch, stump or even a particular spot on the floor.
In stations, trainers can ask animals to go to a specific location during a training session, allowing them to manage several animal sessions by asking every animal to sit patiently at its station before it’s its turn to work on behaviour.
- Open mouth
Another common and important behaviour is the “open mouth” cue, and it can be done with any species that has a mouth to open and is used to allow staff to evaluate an animal’s oral health without an aggressive procedure.
Here, the animal is first taught to open their mouth on cue and hold it for some time. If the mouth or teeth of an animal needs medication, they will be asked to stand still and allow the touch and manipulation of the laps and jaws as part of this behaviour.
You need to enrol in a good Australian animal training centre if you want to opt for animal science classes online. To understand animal psychology, you may need to undergo animal care courses in Australia, such as Certificate IV in Captive Animals, Certificate III in Captive Animals, Certificate II in Animal Studies and much more.