Thursday, April 15, 2010

Training and the meaning of "Foot"

Zuri loves today’s springtime weather! In fact, we’ve hit a major milestone for this time of year—Zuri and Christie have access to their outside yard where they can choose to be in or out at night because the temperatures are so mild.

Just the other morning when our keepers came in to start their day, they had a little laugh when they saw sleeping Zuri; They found her outside in the working yard at Elephant Encounter, sound asleep in her kiddie pool! She’s such a funny baby playing in her hay-filled pool and then getting all tuckered out.

Zuri’s training is coming along nicely too, right now she’s learning “foot” which is a very important behavior for elephants. “Foot” is essential to help the keepers take great care of the elephant’s foot pads. When Zuri learns “foot,” she’ll know to present to the keeper the underside of her foot so they can make sure that there is nothing stuck in her foot to cause any problems, and this will also help with care of her toenails.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Pomegranate Juice Treats

With the snow from this week's storm melting, Zuri will be on exhibit more often toward the end of this week. Still, she is benefiting from the training she is getting from her keepers as she and Christie gear up for this summer's training programs.

Zuri's current favorite method of positive reinforcement? The pomegranate juice treat!! Just the other day, Zuri was getting a pomegranate juice reward for a training session well-done and was so excited she did a headstand! We don't know whose reinforcement was more positive; Zuri's treat or the keepers getting the treat of seeing Zuri's enjoyment.

Hogle Zoo will continue seasonal Pachyderm Programs at Elephant Encounter beginning May 1. These programs showcase the training and behavioral enrichment provided to the elephants, and Zuri will be there right alongside her mom. There are two Pachyderm Programs every day: one at 10:30 am and one at 1:30 pm.