Training is an essential part of providing quality care for the resident ambassadors at Wildlife Images. Roll over, fetch, and sit are great things to train your dog to do at home, but the focus at Wildlife Images is a little bit different. Recently, members of our animal care staff put together a presentation for volunteers. It covered the importance of training and the reasons why we train the animal ambassadors here at Wildlife Images.
One of the biggest reasons for training is so the animal can participate in its own health care. For example, training an animal to provide its paw opens up opportunities for nail trims, paw cleanings or treatment, and even blood draws. Likewise, training an animal to go to a specific place, or station, can allow staff members to get a current weight on the animal by positioning the animal on the scale in a stress free way. Many of the animals at Wildlife Images have mastered this skill.
Another reason we train resident ambassadors is to allow them to demonstrate natural behaviors for educational purposes. In this case, training one of the three skunks at Wildlife Images to do the “skunk stomp” would allow us to show visitors one of the warning signs that comes before a skunk sprays. Another example would be if we trained Nestle, the river otter, to retrieve things from the bottom of her pool. Otters naturally do this in the wild and showing that skill would help explain how they retrieve shellfish from the bottom of a river and eat their meal floating on their backs.
Proper training can have a major impact on the quality of life for our animals. It’s something we take very seriously at Wildlife Images. While training the larger animals like Brady, the bobcats, or one of our three wolf ambassadors is important to safely working with the animals; it is just as important to train our small mammals as well. “Training is about the animal’s quality of life and care. Padme’s (guinea pig) care is just as important as Rufus’ (bobcat),” explained animal care technician, Liz Lundblade.
Wildlife Images plans to launch a new training program in the coming weeks. Check back for updates on the progress as we continue toward our mission of Saving Wildlife and providing the highest quality of life for the resident animal ambassadors.