AZA Professional Training Courses

Kinkers the kinkajou taking meds
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Preciosa and Carol

Preciosa and Carol

Dear Friends of the Sanctuary,

Last November the Sanctuary Foundation gave a presentation at the Annual Wildlife Rescue Conference at the National University of Technology (UTN) in Atenas here in Costa Rica. My responsibilities included research and design of the program presentation. We chose natural enrichment as our theme as we believe it is imperative for the well being of all captive wildlife—whether they are full time residents or in rehabilitation to be released.

As I was researching, I came upon an idea, the concept of which had long been in the back of my mind, but which hadn’t yet come to fruition. It took me by surprise when I saw blood being drawn from an elephant’s ear, a polar bear standing up to allow her stomach to be shaved for an ultrasound scan, and a tiger sashaying up to the fence to receive an injection! A light turned on!

Drawing blood

Drawing blood

Polar bear meds

Polar bear meds

Oral examinations

Oral examinations

Imagine teaching Preciosa, the elderly capuchin to willingly enter a crate in order for us to give her an examination—stress free; or being able to easily administer an injection to Boogie the Tayra; or Lola, the ocelot, being able to receive acupuncture. Imagine too if the wildlife didn’t run away from their caretakers but rather interacted with them. The added support that we would be able to give our unreleasable charges could be increased to a level heretofore unimaginable.

The research terminology for the above-type of behavior modification is called “operant behavior through positive reinforcement training.” I couldn’t get out of my mind how we could apply such a training program at the Sanctuary and how very much our wild residents would benefit from a more stress free life in captivity.

Acupuncture for Lola.

Acupuncture for Lola.

Injections, when necessary, for Boogie.

Injections, when necessary, for Boogie.

Continuing to investigate, I found that the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) offered professional training courses. Two courses stood out as particularly pertinent: Animal Training Applications hosted by Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Orlando, FL and Managing Animal Enrichment hosted by the Houston Zoo in Houston, Texas.

I knew that being accepted to either of these courses would be a long shot as the training programs are always filled immediately. Additionally, priority is given to AZA members while international applicants such as myself are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Undeterred, I applied. I submitted my twenty year background of successfully saving, rehabilitating, releasing and caring for over forty-five different species of birds, mammals and sea turtles. I also spoke of my goal to share my new learned skills with other centers in Costa Rica.

I was accepted!

Through positive reinforcement training Mr. Bill could have his lower mandible shaped—stress free.

Through positive reinforcement training Mr. Bill could have his lower mandible shaped—stress free.

Positive reinforcement training works! Not only does it improve the life of the animals, but also affords visitors a more meaningful experience. Observing animals that are both more active and content, visitors will be able to appreciate wildlife living in circumstances which will more closely approximate those of their lives in the wild.

Both of the above training courses take place this October. Tuition, travel and hotels will total $5,000. I have never been afraid of a challenge and I realize that nothing worthwhile comes easily—without cost or commitment. For the betterment of our charges, I’m anxious to go this extra mile. Please join me and share this unique opportunity: together we can take the Sanctuary to a new, higher, more compassionate level of care.

Through positive reinforcement training we can easily and safely give medications.

Through positive reinforcement training we can easily and safely give medications.

Please consider making your tax deductible donation today. You can either press the PayPal icon in this newsletter below or using our donation icon on our website Osa Wildlife Sanctuary or write a check payable to Osa Wildlife Sanctuary Foundation, Inc. (a registered 501 (c)(3) charity) and mail to P.O. Box 171, Greenwood, IN 46142-0171.

Generous donors such as yourselves are the key to our successes. You make it possible for Osa Wildlife Sanctuary to continue to provide the best care possible for our wild residents.

Thank you,

Carol

Senor Abrazos showing his tail

Positive reinforcement training with Mr. Cuddles, the porcupine could be a bit ‘touchy’ but not impossible.

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