Otago Daily Times

Zoo an­i­mals learn to ‘open wide’

- Animals · Good News · Wildlife · Recreation · Zoo · Werribee Open Range Zoo · Werribee

MEL­BOURNE: Even an­i­mals need the oc­ca­sional oral check­up and, un­like most den­tist­de­spis­ing chil­dren, some res­i­dents at a Vic­to­rian Zoo are wel­com­ing it.

Keep­ers have trained hip­pos, lions and a chee­tah at Wer­ribee Open Range Zoo to vol­un­tar­ily open their mouths us­ing spe­cial hand cues.

Like chil­dren re­ceiv­ing a lol­lipop af­ter see­ing the doc­tor, the an­i­mals are re­warded with their favourite food once they open up and say ‘‘ahh’’.

It does not al­ways make for pretty view­ing, es­pe­cially with the hip­pos, but al­lows the staff to mon­i­tor oral health and brush or clean teeth if need be.

An­i­mal train­ing co­or­di­na­tor Kelly Hobbs said the stress­free ap­proach to oral care stemmed from months of on­go­ing train­ing, pos­i­tive re­in­force­ment and trust­build­ing.

The open­mouth train­ing is just one of the sev­eral meth­ods Wer­ribee Zoo keep­ers are us­ing to pro­vide less­in­tru­sive care for its crea­tures. — AAP

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? A hip­popota­mus.
GETTY IMAGES A hip­popota­mus.

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