Zoo News

Zoo News - Volume 40, March 2020

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UP CLOSE Want an up-close encounter with a lion at Werribee Open Range Zoo? Book online to secure your spot. INSIDE INFO Get the inside story on the lions by attending a Keeper Talk. Held every day at 11.30am at Werribee Open Range Zoo and 12.30pm at Melbourne Zoo. Did you know? This April school holidays marks the launch of Gen Wild, an exciting new program designed exclusively for wildlife-loving teens. Zoos Victoria Members can access discounted tickets to events via pre-sale. Check the Zoos Victoria website for details. program, with patience and clear communication required to build trust with animals over time. Rewarding every small movement or behaviour that is getting closer to the desired result may take time, but over months the lions at Werribee Open Range Zoo have made impressive progress. Far from being taught to perform tricks, the animals are being trained to behave in ways that support their wellbeing. Christina says that a one- size-fits-all approach doesn't work with this type of training, which uses the least intrusive methods possible. "We train all our animals by using positive reinforcement. They all learn at a different pace. It's important for keepers to find what form of positive reinforcement works for each particular animal. In the lion world, meat is a great reinforcer," says Christina. Age is no barrier for changing behaviours with even the zoo's oldest resident lioness (19-year-old Jarrah) participating in training. Christina says the success of the program lies in giving the lions freedom to decide whether or not they take part. "The lions have choice and control so at any time they can leave the session. If they don't want to be there, they can go," explains Christina. ZN Healesville Sanctuary's echidnas are getting pretty good at weighing themselves thanks to some special training. With a little ingenuity, the Sanctuary's keepers have found a stress-free way to weigh the resident monotremes. Keepers simply place peanut butter (a favourite treat of echidnas) near the scales, giving them the choice to climb on to have a snack (and be weighed at the same time). Some are more reluctant to hop on the scales than others. Watch this video of echidnas Ringo and Sean at Healesville Sanctuary: youtu.be/6osjfC0G-vw Weighing in ZOONEWS MEMBER MAGAZINE • AUTUMN 2020 • 1 5 fyi

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