Dr. Zoolittle’s Animal Training - The Cincinnati Zoo ... ... Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical...

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Transcript of Dr. Zoolittle’s Animal Training - The Cincinnati Zoo ... ... Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical...

  • Dr. Zoolittle’s Animal Training Camp, March – April, 2013 (Spring Break Camp)

    Page 1 of 57

    Dr. Zoolittle’s Animal Training Camp (8-11yr. olds)

    Time requirement 7hrs./day- Monday-Friday Group size and grade(s) Group Size (5-12 students)

    Materials -Dry Erase Boards -Clickers -Targets -Rewards—Zoo swag, animal treats -Wheat & Sand -Kim’s Game (Memory Game) -Markers -Large Sheet of Paper - Index cards -Pencils

    Goal(s) -Campers understand the why the zoo trains animals -Campers should know what is required to train animals -Campers should understand naturalistic behaviors -Campers should understand the connection between rewards and motivations -Campers will understand animal intelligence


    1. Campers will be able to train their pets (dog, cat, fish, brothers, sisters, etc)

    2. Campers will be able shape a chosen behavior and train a zoo goat

    3. Campers will be able to name several reasons why the zoo trains its animals

    4. Campers will be able to identify different animal behaviors

    Theme -This camp is an introduction to animal behavior, training and its uses in Zoos.


    1. Campers will understand how to train animals through operant conditioning.

    At a glance This camp is an introduction to animal behavior and its applications to Zoo husbandry (i.e. animal enrichment,

    classical and operant conditioning)

  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

    Dr. Zoolittle’s Animal Training Camp, March – April, 2013 (Spring Break Camp)

    Page 2 of 57

    Academic standards (include on 1st pg only if entire table fits; add box w/badge req. for scouts; eliminate for adults) National Science Educational Standards

    List relevant standards

    Use numbers when possible. Benchmarks for Science Literacy (Project 2061)

    Ohio Science Academic Content Standards

    Kentucky Core Content— Science

    Indiana Science Standards

    Classical Conditioning: Knowledge is Power! We teach conservation programs everyday with the hope of changing our students’ behaviors at the zoo as well as at home. Our goal is to inspire kids to make easy positive choices that can have global effects. Our small choices can have profound effect on wildlife around the world. Keep this in mind as you teach and remember the knowledge you are passing to your campers may affect change. “Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world!” Nelson Mandela. Below is a relevant example of how applied knowledge is power and a little fun (see below). -After learning about classical conditioning in an entry level psychology class. One student applied their knowledge to pull off a prank based on classical conditioning and a behavioral response, as studied by Harvard Professor B. F. Skinner (one of the founders of animal conditioning). Throughout the football off-season, this student visited the Harvard football stadium during his lunch break. Dressed in a black and white striped shirt and trousers, filled his pockets with bird-seed, then went on to the 50 yard line, blew a whistle, and spread his birdseed on the field. The result of all of this effort, as the story goes, is that on opening day as the Harvard football team took the field to face their opponent, the referee blew his whistle to signal the start of the game, and the field was suddenly inundated by a flock of birds looking for their lunch. -Remember the information we pass on and the behaviors we model can have ripple effects with those that we teach! That is truly exciting!

    Background Animal Intelligence- All instinct and NO reason?- Darwin would disagree Intelligence- An index of ability in tasks requiring cognition or an animal’s ability to reason. There is no generally agreed measure of animal intelligence. There are numerous examples and demonstrations of intelligent behavior, but the validity of tests of intelligence is open to criticism on the grounds that it is not possible to devise a problem solving test that is not biased in respect of one species or another. Are animals intelligent? A matter of perspective.. -Scientists really can’t agree. Some would say a horse is intelligent because it will respond to a riders commands. Others would say that if it was truly smart then it would not consent to be ridden. -Some say dolphins are very intelligent because of their ability to learn many commands. But this same animal will allow itself to be captured in a net?!


  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

    Dr. Zoolittle’s Animal Training Camp, March – April, 2013 (Spring Break Camp)

    Page 3 of 57

    *Observations by Darwin and other animal behaviorists, show that animals can reason and not all of their behavior is not purely instinct.(For the scope of the is camp- animals are intelligent, from a ground dwelling wasp to an Asian elephant- intelligence is a function of survival and all animals are good at survival). -Two types of behavior- Learned Behavior & Innate Behavior Innate Behaviors- Are those behaviors that are genetically programmed (instinctual) and shared across a species. For example, human babies are capable of both smiling and crying from the moment they are born, even though they have not been taught to do so and may receive no immediate response to their behavior. Same goes for birds and their begging and alarm calls. As soon as a baby bird hatches without hearing other calls- it knows, instinctually, how to make a call (begging) that tells mom or dad it is hungry. Learned Behaviors- Are behaviors that are modified by experience. For example- Wild new world monkeys were given chicken eggs (not hard boiled), at first they would smash them and their contents would go everywhere. But soon they learned to lightly tap them against rocks and eat nearly all the contents without spilling any. -Can animals learn? Absolutely, in fact, they learn to hunt, swim, fly…. Animal Swimming Lessons? Grey seal pups are capable of swimming 24hrs. after they are born. However, they will not venture out to sea for several weeks after birth. As they grow bigger they take their swimming lessons more seriously. Starting with a doggy paddle using their fore-flippers and then graduating to using their rear flippers like a real seal. Soon they will be able to hunt and escape predators. However, without learning how to use their flippers effectively, they could become some animals lunch. Hunting Lessons? Nearly all mammalian predators innately know they want to eat meat, or chase potential prey. But that doesn’t mean when they are born with great hunting skill. The development of the skill comes from learning and experience. For example, fox cubs learn to hunt from their mother. They learn different techniques on how to catch certain types of prey. Red fox will eat anything from an earthworm to a mouse. But in order to catch a mouse the young fox needs a certain hunting technique, the same goes for catching an earthworm. Young cubs will learn which technique to use for which meal. A red fox cub, learned to catch a mouse by jumping high into the air and pouncing, so as to fall with the front paws on the prey. After learning this behavior, it attempted to use the same technique on an earthworm. But this is a totally inappropriate way to catch such a prey item (wasting too much energy for a small return). The mother fox watched this behavior and showed the younger fox how to catch an earthworm in a far more appropriate way. The cub tried the new way and was rewarded with a fat earthworm! -Can animals get lost? Can they remember? Memory is usually considered the ability to recall or perform some previously learned piece of information or behavior. Animals have remarkable memories- some insect memories are incredible (digger wasps)

    For example, a circle of pine cones were placed around the entrance hole to a female digger wasps nest while she was inside.

  • Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden

    Dr. Zoolittle’s Animal Training Camp, March – April, 2013 (Spring Break Camp)

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    When she emerged she flew around the immediate area, apparently checking out the position of the pine cones and then flew off to forage. While she was away the experimenter moved the circle of pine cones to one side of the entrance hole. She flew to the center of the cones where the entrance hole was before the experimenter moved them. She remembered the location! After flying around for several minutes she was able to relocate her hole. This animal showed memory by using landmarks as reference points to find her home. We use landmarks to help us remember things as well. Almost, every time tell people how to find my house I give them landmarks as part of the directions (e.g. turn left at the gas station). -Can animals pass on information? Can they problem solve and develop traditions/culture? A troop of monkeys, Japanese macaques, were studied in the wild. They were regularly fed sweet potatoes. The sweet potatoes were thrown on a beach and were often covered in sand. One macaque picked up a sweet potato washed it a nearby river, another macaque saw this behavior and mimicked it. When they had offspring, these individuals taught their offspring of the behavior and a culture was passed on. This showed the ability for a population of macaques to learn, remember and pass on information!—Intelligence! The same troop of monkeys were given wheat thro