I had a very fun Wednesday this week!
I got to present the research study that I did for my Master’s thesis at the Dallas Zoo, as part of a lunch lecture series that the zoo organizes for employees. It was fun getting to share my research and we got into some good discussions about clicker training and animal training during the question and answer portion at the end.
This is a really cool lecture series and I was excited to get to be part of it. The zoo tries to bring in several speakers a month to talk about a variety of different zoo-related topics, everything from animal training, to nutrition, to conservation, to veterinary care, and more.
I also have several friends who work at the Dallas Zoo and one of them was able to arrange for us to tag along in the afternoon on a few behind the scenes tours. I got to see up close and personal where the tigers live and where the Asian small-clawed otters live.
Seeing the otter building was really fun. I did an internship at the Dallas Zoo in the summer of 2006 and one project I helped with was some research that was being done with the otters. So, during my internship, I spent many hours watching video footage of the otters both when they were in the public portion of the exhibit and when they were behind the scenes in the otter building. But, despite all that video watching, I had never actually been in the otter building.
Seeing the tiger building was even more interesting. The whole building was designed with the health of the animals and the safety of the zookeepers in mind. There are many special features in the building to help promote good animal care, safety, and training. For example, doors and latches are color coded to prevent any confusion when moving animals around. Also, they do quite a bit of training with the tigers and are able to weigh them, give shots, take blood samples from the tiger’s tail, and more.
Plus, we got to see some very cute koalas that the Dallas Zoo has on loan from the San Francisco Zoo. Apparently, life is pretty good if you’re a koala — it’s all about eating and sleeping!