July 24, 2014
- as seen by -Kayla Bergman
Walruses are very intelligent.
You are looking at just one of 72 behaviors that the New York Aquarium’s 20-year-old Pacific walrus Kulusiq (nicknamed Kulu) knows. This one is called “squirt.”
There are several methods keepers can choose from to train behaviors. The capture method was used for “squirt.” During a training session, Kulu randomly began spitting water like a fountain. Our keepers wanted to keep it in her behavioral repertoire, so they used positive reinforcement to train her by saying “good” and feeding her fish. Through observation, they anticipated this behavior and would say the word “squirt” when she offered a spray of water from her mouth. Kulu began to understand and repeated it in hope of receiving more rewards.
Ultimately, using the capturing method, Kulu has added over 15 behaviors in the past year. Come and see for yourself by visiting Kulu and her poolmate Nuka at NYA.
Nikon 1 AW1