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 in halter and leading exercises, trailer loading, target training, radiograph training, recall and name recognition. They learn to tolerate voluntary blood draws, farrier work, full physical examinations, and grooming.

Last Updated
January 27, 2021
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