Dr. Chloe Wilde is our wildlife biologist. She studied ecology at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Her favorite topic of study is conservation. Dr. Wilde is passionate about learning about and teaching others about how they can help wild cat populations, including reducing their use of products with palm oil in them. Though Carolina Tiger Rescue does not have any, Dr. Wilde’s favorite animal to study is the clouded leopard.
Dr. Hunter’s Blog 5/5/20
Some of the animals here at Carolina Tiger Rescue are trained through operant conditioning. Today, you can see a training session yourself! Operant conditioning is sometimes done to build trust with nervous new rescues. It is also done to get medical care to animals without sedating them, which is using medicine to make them fall asleep. For example, if Moki Tiger was limping, instead of sedating her to check for injuries on her paw, we could ask Moki to put her paw against the fence where we could look it over. Operant conditioning is positive reinforcement based training, which means the animal is rewarded for doing the right thing. In operant conditioning, the animals learn to associate a certain sound with a reward, in their case a meat treat! When they are asked to do something like show their paw, this sound is used to tell them they did it correctly and will now get a treat. Over time, they learn the behaviors represented by the different signals and words and are able to take part in their own check ups and care.
You can watch Maryssa, our Volunteer Coordinator, practice operant conditioning with Mona and Moki Tiger on our Videos page. Just scroll to the videos titled “Facebook LIVE: Operant Training with the Mo Girls” Part I and Part II. Operant conditioning helps our animals focus, provides them with a unique form of enrichment, and helps them to be healthier. I’m so thankful for our patient and determined staff members who dedicate their time to operant conditioning.