Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hard Work at DRC

These adorable sisters love to be entertained!

It is very important to make sure that everything is unpredictable for the dolphins. Trainers work hard to think about new ways to entertain the dolphins. You never know what they’ll be interested in. On a certain day they may absolutely love the Dolphin Entertainment System (DESY) and the next day they’re into something else. As we get to know the dolphins better, we learn their likes and dislikes. Some of them will never come over for an enrichment session while others always enthusiastically show up even if they’re not interested in the activity at hand.

This is definitely true with Pandora and Calusa. These sassy sisters really make their trainers work hard to keep them entertained. Neither is particularly food motivated, so offering fish, gelatin, or ice doesn’t always entice them to stick around on a session. They know that regardless of whether they choose to do what’s on the schedule, they’re going to get all of their food for the day. Pandora and Calusa are dolphins who test even the most experienced trainers.

During a session, Pandora and Calusa decided they really weren’t interested in what their trainers brought down to the dock. There were plenty of fun dolphin toys that we know the girls love but they just weren’t interested. As the girls swam off and instead talked to their friends in the adjacent lagoon and people watched, the staff tried to grab their attention.

A ball was thrown in the lagoon. Frisbees were laid on top of the water to entice them to surf. The trainers splashed water and danced around on the dock. Nothing appealed to the girls. Instead, Pandora watched a dog in the crowd while Calusa swam around in circles.

After twenty minutes, their trainers used a target pole to blow bubbles into the lagoon. This seemed to slightly pique the girls’ attention. They slowly drove by the trainers to eye what was going on. Once it was obvious that the girls were a little interested, one of the trainers began to walk along the boardwalk with the target pole in the water. Calusa quickly turned to follow as it traced the perimeter of the lagoon.

To keep Calusa engaged, the trainer took off racing around the boardwalk. When she got to the edge of the causeway, she turned around and ran back the other way. Soon Pandora began to follow too and the session became a workout for Pandora and Calusa and the trainer!

You never know what the dolphins will find appealing but it’s important to make each session positive and leave the dolphins wanting more. Before Pandora and Calusa had the opportunity to get bored, their trainers stopped the game and left. We want them to know that every session is fun and the good times will continue next time we’re down on the dock.