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Zoo Tales – Orangutan training session


Hi, my name’s Amy Robbins, and
I’m team leader of primates at
Auckland Zoo. I do a lot of work
with the orangutans here, and part of how we look after them
is to do a lot of training with
them or operant conditioning. And so what that involves is
asking them to present different
body parts, and it could mean things like
looking into their mouth, it could mean giving them an
injection in their shoulder if
they need to have an anaesthetic. Just about to go into a
training session with Charlie.
We do two training sessions a day. And we’re just building up to almost
being able to take blood from him. So it’s just taken a few months of
slowly getting him used to putting
his arm in and trusting us that we’re not gonna
hurt him. Nothing bad’s gonna
happen, and he’s gonna get this constant
reinforcement or these constant
goodies, and we only use really
high-value stuff to him. So things like honey and sultanas
and all the goodies that he wouldn’t
normally get in his diet. Good boy, Charlie. So we had to get him used to the
holding, and now we’ve started
to introduce different kind of equipment that
will be associated with taking
blood, so, like, the alcohol wipes and
then using the butterfly needle. And I’ve cut the end off the needle
so it’s still sharp, but it’s blunt, and it’s not going
to pierce his skin. Done. All finished. You’re done. (LAUGHS) You’re good to go. Being able to take blood is
going to be a huge step for us in terms of how we look after
the health of our orangutans. If we want to take blood
from an orangutan now, we have to knock them out, so they
have to have an anaesthetic just to
take blood. So if we can take blood from them
fully awake and fully voluntary, hopefully we can do that
whenever they need to. So for example, if they were going
overseas, that might save a
knockout, or if one of them was sick. So we wanna be able to know what
a healthy orangutan looks like and then what a sick
orangutan might look like, in order to be able to provide
the best treatment that we can. (UPLIFTING MUSIC)

3 Comments

  1. Danielle Hill Author

    that is sooooooooooooooo cool if you look on my profile pic you might recognize someone hint:it's a senior keeper at the zoo

    Reply

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