Animal Escape and Recapture Drill

notice the white V on her chest.

Last week we had a bear escape- actually two bears. Well, actually, not really any bears, or at least not any real bears. We practice and drill so we can prepare for the real thing. Sometimes I use stuffed animals– rather large ones that the keepers have to track down and find and return home. It’s hard to mimic reality with stuffed animals, so this past time I enlisted the help of our Human Resource Specialist, Leslie Fann. She did a mighty impressive job playing the role of Virginia Bear. 

I supplied her with the bear “coat” but she added ears, makeup and the beautiful white blaze all on her own. She waddled like Virginia, she slowly and deliberately dawdled like Virginia. She was really quite a pain in the rear. It was perfect!

Kimberly and Katy called her to “COME” and “TARGET” and Lesliebear responded.

LeslieBear targets and takes a peanut reward

Operant Conditioning really pays off. While Katy and Kimberly were calling LeslieBear (saying, “VIRGINIA, COME. VIRGINIA TARGET”) the real Virginia bear came up to the fence! It was so crazy-cool!

Virginia- the real Virginia- came when called even though Katy was calling the “pretend” Virginia.




3 responses to Animal Escape and Recapture Drill

  1. Ranger Ro says:

    This is awesome. Listening to the “escape” over the radio and all I could think was that I really hoped someone was getting pictures of Lesliebear.

  2. Katy says:

    Once Virginia showed up I had to start referring to “Virginia” as LeslieVirginia. Both Virginia’s trained really well!!! LeslieVirginia knew exactly what “target” was and she has never been trained before(as far as I know)!!! She did great at getting the peanuts out of the shell with her mouth too!!! The bears would have been proud of LeslieVirginia.

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