May 10

Animal trainers presenting in California

Myself, along with one of the other trainers at Wolf Haven, Lauren, are in sunny San Francisco! We are extremely fortunate to have been selected to present a paper at The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) conference. The ABMA is a group of animal professionals dedicated to using positive reinforcement to improve the lives of animals in human care. Many professional animal trainers are members of ABMA, and at the yearly conference we all get together to share ideas. This year, the theme of the conference is Eureka! Striking Behavioral Management Gold. Lauren and I wrote a paper and a presentation based on this theme and our training of Cupid, our North American Barn Owl.

This picture was taken by our Facebook friend, Roy. You may remember that Cupid was learning a circle flight routine through the audience last year. It wasn’t until the park opened and we utilized the assistance of all of the wonderful guests that Cupid really started succeeding. Our previous attempts to train the circle flight taught us a lot, and we are eager to share that with our colleagues. Our paper is titled, The Three Day Rule: Implications of a Specialized Training Plan for a Na├»ve North American Barn Owl. We decided to call it that because Cupid needed to practice each step of his flights correctly for three whole days before he could move on to the next step. This was just one of the things that we learned. With wolves, foxes, and several of the other animals we train, we can move on to the next step on the same day or sometimes even during the same session. However, Cupid needed some extra special attention, and took just a little longer to learn (bless his little heart).

Wish us luck! We will be among some really great trainers at some other well respected facilities, and we hope to represent Busch Gardens in Williamsburg with flying colors (pun intended!). We're excited to be in San Francisco until Saturday.