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Using a fusion of operant conditioning and TTEAM to train giraffe calves

All the giraffe calves at The Oakland Zoo undergo an extensive conditioning program to prepare them for a successful life in a captive husbandry situation. Beginning when the calf is between five and fourteen days old, keepers initiate basic desensitization and simple operant conditioning behaviors. Keepers use a combination of traditional operant conditioning techniques and the Tellington Touch Equine Awareness Method (a training system for horses) to achieve sophisticated behavioral goals. Under this comprehensive system, calves are trained to participate

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Clinical conditions found radiographically in the front feet of Reticulated giraffe (Giraffe Camelopardalis reticulata) in a single zoo

Front foot radiographs from 22 giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis reticulata) at one zoo were analyzed to better understand causes of lameness in this giraffe population. The herd had a history of front hoof overgrowth and intermittent lameness. Radiographic findings included distal interphalangeal joint osteoarthritis (OA), distal phalangeal bone (P3) osteitis, P3 fractures, P3 rotation, and sesamoid bone cysts. OA of the distal interphalangeal joint occurred in at least one front foot of 73% (16/22 giraffe) of the herd, and all giraffe

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Fancy Footwork: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Giraffe Herd Trains for Farrier Work and X-rays

Nearly eighty percent of all giraffe sedation procedures are related to foot care. Most of the knockdowns are done once the giraffes display clinical signs of lameness, hoof overgrowth, abscesses, or swelling. Statistics show that ten percent of giraffes put under anesthesia do not make it through the procedure. These alarming statistics demonstrate the necessity for institutions housing captive giraffes to develop ways to safely provide hoof care and maintenance with non-sedated giraffes. The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo (CMZ) recently started

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The Giraffe Husbandry Resource Manual

Giraffes have been kept in captive situations for hundreds of years. Nevertheless, it would be very difficult to describe a singular optimal situation for keeping giraffe, outside of their natural environment. Much of the information contained within will illustrate multiple situations where giraffe were managed successfully, to allow the reader to make husbandry decisions that will best suit their individual facilities and create the most suitable program for their herd. The information found within this manual should be used as

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Monitoring Giraffe Behavior in Thermal Video

We present a solution for monitoring nocturnal giraffe behavior by reducing several hours of thermal camera surveillance footage into a short video summary which can be reviewed by experts. We formulate the video summarization task as a tracking problem: frames in which giraffes are successfully tracked are presumed to be typical poses/behaviors and not included in the summary; whereas frames containing track initializations or terminations are presumed to be atypical events and are therefore included in the summary. To implement

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Teaching young giraffe old tricks: Changing learned behaviors in a herd of captive giraffe

At Lion Country Safari (LCS) in Loxahatchee, FL, a sub-tropical climate and the adoption of unnatural behavior by the captive giraffe herd have collided to pose a threat to the health of the giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis). In recent years, a resilient parasite known as Haemonchus contortus has become prevalent in the pastures where the giraffe are housed and has developed resistance to many standard de-worming drugs. H. contortus feeds on the host’s blood while residing in the abomasum of ruminants

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Advances in Giraffe Care: Trained Medical Behaviors

Traditionally, giraffe in human care have been considered to be challenging patients, partly due to their tall stature, unique anatomy, and neophobic nature. However, zookeepers and veterinary staff at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo are challenging these assumptions by incorporating operant conditioning methods for medical behaviors. By using positive reinforcement procedures to shape medical behaviors, we are able to do an increasingly wide range of diagnostics and treatments. This allows our 17 reticulated giraffe to be active participants in their own medical

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