Visitors to our Betty Moroney Norsworthy Otter Outpost have many ways to describe the personalities of our Asian small-clawed otters: quick, energetic, playful.
But what’s a zookeeper to do when we need a hyper otter to sit still?
You teach them to “station.” Stationing is a behavior training that our otters and many other animals (big and small) learn. Specifically, it’s when an animal is asked to sit or stand still at a designated area.
As simple as it sounds, stationing has many benefits for the animal and the zookeeper.
For every successful station, the otter receives a delicious treat. All training done at the Dallas Zoo is through positive reinforcement, and our animals are never forced to do any behaviors. They’re asked nicely and rewarded.
Stationing is also the first step to learning other behaviors like target training, spin, scale and reach. All of these behaviors help zoo staff inspect the otters and administer medicine and vaccines safely and easily.
Visit our otter keeper talks Thursday through Sunday at 1:30 p.m. and you may see the stationing yourself!
(Video and photo by staffer Chelsea Stover)