As we welcome new members to the DRC family, it’s obvious that our little guy Flagler isn’t so little anymore. Although he is larger than most dolphins his age, Flagler is a gentle guy with a heart of gold and filled with lots of curiosity. As he continues to learn new behaviors, we like to cognitively challenge him.
During a session, Flagler’s trainer threw a target pole into the lagoon and asked him to dive with it. This is a behavior that many of the ladies in his lagoon have perfected. Since the target pole queens, Pandora and Calusa, moved into the front Flagler has witnessed them maneuver their way through a variety of behaviors without ever letting the target pole slip through their flippers. Now, it’s Flagler’s opportunity to learn how it’s done.
As the pole hit the water, Flagler’s trainer signaled him to go out for a dive. Instead of jumping with or over the pole, Flagler happily retrieved it and swam back to the dock. Once again it was thrown out and Flagler did the same thing. Since he needed a little help understanding the concept, his trainer sent Gypsi out to model the behavior. As his older friend grabbed the pole and flew through the air with it, we hoped that it clicked in Flagler’s mind.
When Gypsi returned to the dock, the trainer asked Flagler one more time to try to go out with the pole. All of a sudden, he got it! While he was still learning and barely grabbed the pole, he knew what his trainer wanted him to do. It was exciting to see the wheels in his mind turn. Soon, he’ll be able to complete what he’s asked to do all on his own.