As we move forward to demonstrate how live animal collections can desensitize their animals to the presence of service dog in an effort to afford the least restrictive access to disabled individuals accompanied by their service dogs, we will be posting the results of our efforts. Here is a report from Dr. larry kilmar from Lowry Park Zoologic Garden in Tampa, Florida where we are conducting our demonstration project.
Marion Gwizdala, president
Summary of Desensitization Session of June 2, 2015
by Larry Kilmar
Today we had two trainers from the Suncoast Puppy Raisers, Karen and Don along with their dogs on site for the second training session. We began the training tour by revisiting the Main Aviary. We took one dog in at a time and walked through the entire aviary with each dog. The reactions from the birds were within acceptable ranges, some vocalizing, others very watchful but none were showing a great deal of stress. Both dogs were steady and showed little to no reaction to the birds.
Next we revisited the Wallaroo station and the petting area from the outside. The goats were watchful but calm while the llamas were very interested. The dogs were curious.
The next stop was the Giraffe Feeding Station. This was our first visit to this area. Our steadiest male giraffe, Jyoti, moved to the platform and was very interested in the dogs. Again we had one dog at a time visit the platform. At one point “Jyoti” leaned down to the level of the dog behind the fence to touch noses with the dog. A truly incredible site. Don’s dog let out with a short bark however that did not scare the giraffe. The other giraffe on exhibit was near the platform and did not react to the dogs at any time.
Our last stop was back to the Lorikeet Aviary. That was our third visit to this aviary and while the birds were vocalizing, again it was within acceptable levels. The birds would not come down to Karen to feed from the nectar cup. Interestingly, the Blue-faced Honeyeaters were vocalizing during the entire visit and the Marbled Teal showed little concern. I believe that one more visit to this aviary and we can remove it from our restricted list.
We hope to establish two sessions a month going forward, one training session during the first and third week of the month depending on schedules. Another successful training day!!!