Learning from Mother Nature

By Lara Joseph Sadly, behavior issues are skyrocketing in the realm of exotic animal care. Most of what I see is due to ongoing, stressful conditions and, often, the signs of stress are not recognized in the companion animal community or facility staff, who are not always educated appropriately. A lot of the behaviors I see are due to frustration, […]

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Breaking the Cycle

By Lara Joseph Molly is my nine-year-old Solomon Island eclectus parrot who lost her home a few years ago. What a beautiful little bird she is and I just could not understand why anyone would not want her any more. Well, I soon found out why she was surrendered. Before she lost her home she had developed this ear piercing […]

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Conditioning Confidence

By Emily Cassell Husbandry training has been the primary focus of zoo training for decades, but has only made it into the world of companion animals relatively recently. The reason for this probably has something to do with the relative ease with which we can restrain domesticated animals. You could say the need for training a rabbit or guinea pig […]

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A Long-Term Solution

By Lara Joseph …the mutilating behavior was getting worse. The keepers admitted they couldn’t give their attention to creating the foraging toys I had advised, and told me Abbey was now taking his food and placing it into the hole he had created in his chest. I understood the keepers’ inability to dedicate the time to the toys. Unfortunately, I […]

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Cool for Cats

By Tabitha Kucera We are all familiar with puppy socialization, but do not hear about kitten socialization anywhere near as often. In fact, however, it is as important for kittens to be properly socialized and trained as it is for puppies. The effects of poor socialization can result in cats who hide from visitors, fear other pets, adapt slowly to […]

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The Long Way Home

By Lara Joseph It became clear to me that, during Koko’s time at the zoo his interactions with humans had commonly been paired with aversives, so I agreed to take on the challenge of working with him. It was my goal to get him out of his cage and make it a pleasurable experience for him…I was not comfortable putting […]

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Making Room for the Little Guys

By Emily Cassell Fish, guinea pigs, hamsters, mice, rabbits, and the like are not known for their high intelligence, and bear the undeserved reputation of “untrainable.” It is ironic that in a world of coercive training, the tiniest, fluffiest, and most relatively defenseless animals we work with are the most resistant to aversive training techniques…Prey animals view the world in a […]

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