Training the Animals in Your Life

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  • Rumley and Boudreaux sittin' in a tree

    Here's a video of the first time that Rumley and Boudreaux saw each other. Boudreaux is still contagious so he can't meet Rumley yet. You can see them both wagging their tails and then you can see Rumley turn and bark at me. He's super angry that I won't open the door for him so that he can play with Boudreaux. I'm such a mean mom :( 

    Unfortunately, we still have to wait a couple of weeks before Boudreaux is completely in the clean. Once we get these two together though, I think they will be a dynamic duo! What do you think? 

  • We've Adopted a Mangey Mutt

    Ryan and I are crazy people. We have officially adopted a mangey mutt. We've had him for a week now. His name is Beaudreaux and he appears to be a German Shepherd. Beaudreaux was found wandering the streets in Baytown and he was going to be put down if no one rescued him. I saw him on the Great Dane Rescue page, it seemed they had been smitten with him even though he's not a Great Dane. For some reason, this little guy tugged on my heartstrings.

    We went to the vet's office to pick him up and while we were waiting, they let us know that he has Sarcoptic mange. This means that he's highly contagious to our dog, Rumley, as well as to us. This has made things much more complicated than we were anticipating. The poor pup has to stay in our spare bedroom during the day and night. We put on special clothes and gloves when we go to take him out. Then, as soon as we put him back in the bedroom, we have to throw our clothes in the wash on hot and dry them on high heat.

    We have to make sure we are completely clean again before we can see Rumley. It's been 7 days since we got him and he definitely seems to be healing. We have a vet appointment next week and I hope that they tell us that he can join the family soon. I know that him and Rumley will have a blast playing together. The video shows Ryan and Beaudreaux playing fetch on Beaudreaux's first morning here. He's a sweet pup!

  • Loving It

    Today was an extraordinary day. I was sitting in my third meeting of the day and I actually thought "Wow, what a great day." Who does that?? 

    My first meeting was a departmental meeting where I learned about what is going on with the zoo and found out about the chance to help out with several of our conservation projects that are taking place around the world. 

    Then I went to an AAZK meeting to help plan Bowing for Rhinos. I am going to be the chair of that event this year. So, I get to work with a bunch of people that care as much as I do about saving Rhinos in the wild. 

    After lunch, we had a meeting where some of the keepers came and taught us about animal enrichment. It was all old news for me but it was so fun to be with the rest of my team when they learned about it and I could spend all day talking about animal behavior. 

    After work my department went out for happy hour with our director and CEO to celebrate closing our Gorilla campaign. 

    How amazing was that? Every meeting that I sit in I thouroughly enjoy. I get paid to talk about animals, animal conservation and to brainstorm ways to raise funds for animals. I feel like I am where I was meant to be all along :)

  • Memory and Recognition In A Steer

    Memory and Recognition In A Steer

    The image above is Zamir giving me a "kiss" after almost three years.

    My sweet, sweet boy remembered me! It has been three years since I was his trainer, but the last several times I have visited the Miniature Zebu steer named Zamir that I used to work with, he has showed major signs of remembering me. 

    I have recently returned to The Houston Zoo after working in a law firm for three years. During those three years, the only time I had to visit the Zoo were Saturdays which are the most crowded day of the week. When I would go visit Zamir on Saturdays, I would call his name and sometimes he would look at me. He would swing his head up, his eyes would get big and he would look straight at me. But then he would go back to eating his hay without coming over. I thought this was because I wasn't wearing a zoo uniform and so he no longer recognized me. I should mention that Zamir generally does not let the public reach over the fence and touch him.

    Since returning to the Zoo, I am able to go visit Zamir on Friday evenings after work which are considerably less crowded. A few weeks ago, my husband met me at the Zoo after work on a Friday and we went to visit Zamir. I now work in an office at the Zoo and don't wear a Zoo uniform. Because Zamir had started ignoring me, I wasn't even going to attempt to call out to him until my husband encouraged me to try. I called out his name in the tone that I always used to say it years ago and Zamir swung his head around and looked straight at me as if to say "hey, what's up?" He came straight over and stuck his nose over the fence as if not a day had passed since our last meeting. He let me scratch and pet him for at least twenty minutes. I had to see if he remembered a couple of his old behaviors (shhh don't tell my zookeeper friends!) so I tried "kiss" and "target". He did both right away and kept looking at me as if to say "Where's the bread?" Zamir's rewards are bread or scratches. 

    I thought that maybe this was a one time occurance so I waited two weeks and then went back. I walked up to the fence and called out "Zamiiir" and he immediately swung his head around and stuck his nose over the fence to get to me. He let me scratch under his chin (his favorite spot) and stayed there for at least twenty minutes again. It made my week! I really think it had a lot to do with the fact that it is less crowded. When crowds are around Zamir is unwilling to come towards the fence because he knows that several people will try to touch him. When there are less crowds, he is willing to come over and let me scratch him for a long time because he knows me. It's not the Zoo uniform that he recognizes, it is me. I can't tell you how important those relationships are between an animal and trainer!

    We'll leave off with one of my favorite pictures of Zamir and I from several years ago when I was still his trainer. 

    Zamir giving me a "kiss"

Hi! I'm Brittany and I started this blog to share my love of animals and to try and help save them in the wild. 

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