Jeremy Proffitt, manager of applied behavior and animal welfare, guest blogs on ZooHoo!
Tulum is a special bird that much of the public has never met, but not for long. This spectacled owl is proof that it’s never too late to learn because she’s one of the Zoo’s newest ambassador animals meeting guests in the park.
Tulum is a healthy 25-year-old that’s unable to fly due to an injury as a young owl. In the past, she was skittish around people and the equipment used to handle her. A new behavior plan was developed to build her comfortability with people and confidence in her surroundings.
Keeper Amanda Barr started the process months ago getting Tulum comfortable around her. Amanda’s calm demeanor and patience benefitted Tulum, even in the early days of working together.
Amanda transferred to another section and bird keeper Alex Gilly soon took on the project with open arms. She worked patiently and diligently building a trusting relationship with Tulum that would be paramount to the rest of the training.
With a trusting relationship established, Alex worked daily to introduce the glove, touch Tulum with it, and offer her food from it. Eventually Tulum was asked to stand on the glove, which would allow her to be carried into the park.
Alex’s next big step was walking Tulum out of her behind-the-scenes home. The training plan and relationship the keepers built shined through and allowed Tulum to see more of her world.
You might see her out-and-about near Wings of Wonder educating guests. Stop by and say hello!
Tulum’s interactions in the park are short right now, but they will become longer as this remarkable bird becomes more comfortable. Thanks to patient keepers and a special behavior plan, this great little owl gets to broaden her world, and guests get to meet an amazing animal.
The Dallas Zoo has a new little ambassador and she’s ready to meet her world.