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Animals get to feel at home at the Denver Zoo

I never knew that wild animals could be trained just like a family dog. Emily Insalaco works at the Denver Zoo helping to do just that. She is a Curator of behavioral (what the animals are doing) husbandry (animal care).The animal enrichment program helps the animals stay healthy. There are three different reasons why they do this. The first reason is so they can take care of them every day. The second reason is medical behavior. They train animals to lift up different body parts so the vet can look at them if they need to. The last reason is so people can learn about them.
Insalaco showed me an animal called Woody the Gerenuk. Christina Seely a zookeeper trained him. She chose a natural pose that he would actually do in the wild. He stood up on his two hind legs like he would do to reach leaves on a tree in Africa. With most animals they try to pick a natural pose when they train them. Every time the Gerenuk does the pose he gets a green grape. That is what they call free contact because they are in the cage with the animals. A Gerenuk looks kind of like a deer and has horns like a deer. Only the male Gerenuks have horns though. This program helps to calm the animals because if a human comes in they could be so excited that the animals could easily hurt their own fragile bodies. "I am always cautious when I go into the cage. I don't want him to think of me as a play toy." Said Seely.T
hey also do this with other animals. With the lions they stand behind a glass wall and do a natural pose and that is so if the vet needs to look at them they can. If the vet needs to give them a shot they put the shot through their tail. Since the Gerenuk got a treat the lion should to! They either toss the food or they have this thing called a feed stick. It's a long pole that they put meat on and the lion jumps up and grabs the meat. They also have this thing called a food chute. They put the food in and it pops out the other side. That was what they call protected contact because the zookeepers are protected by something. Either way animals big, small, fierce, or cute they all need to be taken care of just like Insalaco said "All the things that they would do in the wild we want to make sure they can do here."



Great for your first story! I love it!

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