Training Program

Building Bridges between Zoos and Sanctuaries

December 28, 2015

On January 8 and 9, 2016, Turpentine Creek will host our first animal training event. Animal advisors from the Little Rock Zoo, Rosamond Gifford Zoo at Burnet Park, El Paso Zoo, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, and BamBam-7126Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo will be here to advise the staff on how to target train our animals.

This is the first step to bridge a gap between Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) zoos and Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS) sanctuaries. We are bringing them in to help teach our animal care staff how to incorporate the best training methods into our own daily routines.

Animals that are living in captivity in the United States – that are being properly taken care of – are either living in AZA zoos or reputable sanctuaries, such as GFAS sanctuaries. AZA and GFAS strictly regulate their respective facilities, and set very high standards regarding living conditions for the animals.

“We believe that these top notch places in both categories should work together. If you are going to have animals in a captive institution, then we all need to share ideas and work together,” Emily McCormack, TCWR Curator, stated.

As reputable sanctuaries are non-profits, most cannot afford to send their staff to the same expensive training programs that AZA zoos can. This training program will give TCWR, and eventually other sanctuaries, an alternative that will improve the quality of life for the animals living at the sanctuaries.

“By having these knowledgeable people coming in to us, we will have some of the best training available. Each of the trainers have years of experience under their belts, which they can now pass on to our staff,” McCormack said.

EmilyMcCormack_IzzyTiger_ReleaseDay-8958Animal target training will depend on a variety of factors. The key factor is if the animal wants to participate. Animals who do not show interest in the training will not be forced into the program and all training will be based on positive reinforcement.

“It can be stressful for some animals when we shift them from their habitats to night houses, clean their water dishes, give them vaccinations, and other various daily tasks. This training would help to minimize the stress for the animals we take care of here,” McCormack said.

For this first event, only TCWR staff members will be attending. We will open up future training events to other sanctuaries.