From the Pod...

Posted by DPMMR Staff on Aug 21, 2020 6:00:00 AM

IMG_4051Alfonz – Alfonz has been a busy boy this August! He voluntarily gave a blood sample for a routine check-up, has been hanging out with many of our guests, and is helping his friend Bob learn a new in water behavior with the trainers. Typically, Alfonz is our go-to Splash & Wade dolphin as he seems to really enjoy meeting people from a submerged platform. This month, however, Alfonz has been more involved with the deep-water programs, which has added variability to his day and really increased his attention during sessions. Finally, Alfonz has started learning a “belly breach” behavior with Kayla which is where he jumps out of the water and lands on his belly (a natural behavior for dolphins when they’re trying to communicate).

 

Baby-Bit (BB) – B.B. is an incredible mentor and role model to our two baby dolphins Tug and Jett. She actually helps the trainers train these two calves and helps them learn new behaviors via observational learning. Thus, this month, B.B. has spent a lot of time this month working with either Tug or Jett. When she isn’t working with her two protégés, she has been spending a lot of time in the deep water, IMG_1848relationship building with her trainers. Recently, the veterinary team requested a routine voluntary blood sample from B.B., which they request monthly to ensure B.B. has healthy blood values. On the first day we asked for this sample, B.B. showed us signs that she wasn’t comfortable giving the blood that day, so we postponed the behavior two weeks and continued to “approximate” or practice this behavior, in the meantime. Everytime B.B. allowed us to “practice” taking her blood, while remaining calm and motionless; her trainers reinforced her with lots of love, cheering, and fish. When we asked B.B. the second time, she completed the behavior with ease and perfect form! Good Job, Beebs! (That’s her nickname)

 

 

BobHelloBob – Bob is typical male and very interested in the female dolphins… he’s a “Ladies Man” of sorts. Especially during the summer season when the water warms up, we see that his interest in the ladies peaks. Because of our training philosophy, Bob always has the choice to go hang out with the ladies or to stay with his trainers during session. Although Bob is still very interested in the female dolphins, lately he has chosen to participate in every session with his trainers instead! This behavior tells us that the types of sessions we are offering Bob are very reinforcing and stimulating for him! (Even more so than the ladies!) We couldn’t be happier with his success.

Bob is also working on his “beach” behavior where he slides out of the water onto a padded stretcher atop a mechanical platform. At some point this year, we will need to take Bob for a CT Scan as part of his annual physical. Our goal is to minimize the stress associated with this important procedure, so we practice coming out of the water nearly every day so it becomes normal for Bob. As you can see, these animals have better health care than most humans!

 

Dinghy – As you probably know, Dinghy is our oldest dolphin. Just like humans, as dolphins age their DING BEST_listeyesight can naturally begin to fade. Dinghy recently presented signs of vision loss in her right eye and, thus, our veterinary team has dedicated a significant amount of time monitoring and treating her eye condition closely. This mainly involves adding eye drops to her daily husbandry regimen. Because it is so important for her to get these eye drops, she must lay on her side calmly for 2-5 minutes. Naturally, trying to give eye drops to an animal that lives in saltwater can be a challenge… but Dinghy remains a Rockstar! She is in great spirits and is still able to participate in all of her favorite behaviors.

 

unnamed-1-11Jessica – Jessica is known as DPMMR’s helicopter mom and she certainly lived up to this title during the month of August! She monitors her son, Jett, very closely and constantly makes sure he isn’t getting into any trouble… at all! She frequently leaves a session with guests or trainers to check on her son and make sure he is behaving appropriately and not in harms way! Her maternal instincts result in incredible behavior for guests to observe during their interactions, which makes for an added education moment at DPMMR.

When she isn’t checking on Jett, Jessica spends a lot of time with Dani, one of her primary trainers, just hanging out together. Jessica is also a great dolphin for trainers to work with when they are learning to run our interactive programs, so recently; she has been “training” our new trainers.

 

Jett- Like all 3-year-old dolphins, Jett has a lot of energy! This month he spent a lot of time burning off unnamed-1-Aug-20-2020-05-09-47-82-PMthat energy by learning the beach behavior (which his helicopter mom, Jessica, keeps a close eye on). Dani has been working on this behavior with him and his bold personality becomes evident during these sessions. He is a fearless little man and really enjoys learning this behavior. Jett has spent a lot of time this month with Jenna, as well. Jenna has great energy that matches Jett, so the two of them spend a lot of time together running around the pool and playing games.

 

unnamed-Aug-20-2020-04-47-30-47-PMTug- Tug has made some serious progress on his front flip behavior! Now, he can follow a target pole all the way out of the water, do a full one-and-a-half rotation, and re-enter the water headfirst. It won’t be long before he won’t need the target pole to guide him at all! High energy behaviors like this are perfect for Tug because, like Jett, he has a lot of energy to burn and his intelligence keeps his trainers on their toes. This particular behavior seems to satisfy both of these characteristics.

Despite his young age, Tug is probably the best at the “beach” behavior. He can slide all the way out of the water and onto a stretcher on a mechanical platform. DPMMR’s Director of Training, Luke, has also started adding the voluntary restraint aspect of the behavior, which includes trainers gently restraining and touching him, after he is all the way out of the water. Tug doesn’t mind at all, in fact, he seems to adore this behavior.

Topics: Dolphins in Key Largo, Newsletter

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