We’ve got another post today for Super Surprise Thursday! It’s all about how animals learn in zoos and aquariums in honor of all the kids going back to school!
Well, it’s that time of year again- BACK TO SCHOOL; time for kids pack up their backpacks and lunch boxes and head into a classroom. It’s time to pull out the pens, pencils and crayons and learn all kinds of fascinating information. We hope kids learn all about animals and nature during the year!
We know that kids get very excited about the beginning of the school year, but what about animals? Do you think they learn? Would it be unusual to see an orangutan sitting at a desk or a crow with glasses on, solving math problems? Well, maybe not! Animals learn too! Has anyone ever taught their dog to sit or shake hands? If you have taught your dog some of those tricks, then they learned something. Cool!
We thought it would be fun to look at some ways that animals learn in honor of this awesome time of year! Zoos and aquariums often use training to teach animals! The training is a great way to give the animals enrichment and it also helps keepers take care of the animals. What’s enrichment? Well, enrichment is a way to teach and entertain animals. Here’s an example, gorillas in Africa spend much of their day foraging or searching for food, but they don’t have to do that in a zoo. Zoo keepers will put food in objects or scatter it around the enclosure so the gorillas have to search for it. It keeps the gorillas busy and it’s more like what gorillas would do in the wild. Here’s a great explanation from Zoo Atlanta on enrichment: http://www.zooatlanta.org/home/enrichment
Training also helps keepers take care of wild animals. You can’t just walk up to a tiger and give them a pill or walk up to a rhino ask them to get on a scale! Keepers work to train animals using positive reinforcement! They can train animals to show their mouths, sit on scales, and even to be given shots. We’ve found some great websites on training animals in zoos and aquariums! Let’s check them out!
The St Louis Zoo does a great job taking care of their animals through training! http://www.stlzoo.org/animals/enrichmenttraining/animaltraining.htm Who knew it takes 3 people to give a giraffe a manicure? And who knew they needed manicures?
Disney also has a great site all about enrichment and training! Tons of great info! http://www.animalenrichment.org/guests.html
The National Zoo has a list of the items they use for enrichment: http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/Primates/Enrichment/default.cfm
Here’s a great video about training:
Animals have almost as much to learn as you do! Whew! Did you know that there are chimpanzees that know sign language, that there are birds that can count and that there are animals that use tools? We’ll be writing about these amazing animals soon! Now it’s time to get back to your homework!