Training Wild Caught Herds
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Imagine your most challenging behavior problem to address. In zoo animal training it might involve extreme fear responses, working with a group of animals, and animals so far away they can barely be seen. The mere glimpse of a person causes them all to run away. Many antelope species are known for neophobic responses. If the herd is wild caught, their learning history often includes highly aversive experiences associated with humans. Working with herd animals also requires a particularly nuanced application of reinforcement in order to progress with the entire group. One mistake and all members of the herd may emit fear responses and leave the session. Additionally, there are species specific behaviors that are important to understand to ensure trainers are reinforcing desired responses. This presentation examines the details involved when using a constructional approach to address fear responses emitted by herds of wild caught antelope species and other herd animals. By examining the application of this procedure in a very challenging setting, it is my hope others will see the potential of the procedure for the animals in their care.