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Behind the Scenes: Animal training at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

Posted at 6:32 PM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-24 10:18:43-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo has adapted and continues to adapt programming to fit the needs created by 2020. Since larger classes have had to be scaled down, the Zoo is offering a wider variety of smaller classes that allow more one-on-one interaction with Zoo employees and animals.

One series of classes the Zoo has been hosting involve a behind-the-scenes look at how zookeepers train animals to cooperate for events such as medical check ups.

This specific series of classes provides insights on how to train animals, personal pets included, using positive reinforcement. This skill set might be especially important in a year where so many pets have been adopted and more people are spending long periods of time indoors.

"This [class] gives them the tools to kind of better set up their lives for when things return to normal a little bit more but they've already established those great behaviors and routines with their pets at home."

Animal training classes entail introducing small groups of participants to not only positive training methods but also positive times and mindsets to be in while working on training animals.

For these classes participants were introduced to smaller zoo animals, chickens in the case of the class taught on November 21st, and shown how to positively reinforce behavior while using targeting rods, specialized poles with bright red dots on the end.

Class participants would move the rod and, upon reacting, the animals in question would receive a reward.

We’ve seen that animals from chickens to grizzly bears respond positively to this training practice, and hopefully what we teach to people who attend these courses will help them improve trusting relationships with their animals at home.
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

The zoo is offering courses intermittently; you can find more information on upcoming events on their WEBSITE.

The zoo is also offering the customized course for groups of five individuals or more, for more information on setting up a class, "Just call the Zoo and ask to speak to the EdVenture department, or email edprograms@cmzoo.org."

Have an interesting story to share with us? Reach out at jon.mcmichael@koaa.com.