Dr. Lamar Hunter has just joined the Carolina Tiger Rescue team as a wildlife veterinarian. After he graduated from NC State’s vet school, Dr. Hunter studied under Dr. Angela Lassiter at Carolina Tiger Rescue. He helps with physicals, medical procedures, and loves seeing the animals improve under the care of the awesome vets at the rescue. Dr. Hunter enjoys working with all the animals at Carolina Tiger Rescue, but his favorite is the lions.

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.