October has been a busy month for our resident dolphins with the installation of new platforms in both lagoons. Here's how our 7 family members are doing:
Alfonz & Bob - For Bob & Alfonz, not only did the type of platform change, but the layout of their lagoon also changed. Before the new docks were even completely installed, trainers jumped into action to desensitize the new platforms for the boys. Their healthcare is extremely important, so getting them comfortable offering their healthcare behaviors was a top priority. Luckily, within 3 days both dolphins were hydrating, presenting different body parts for eyedrops, exams, and ultrasound if needed.
Both boys seemed to have had an overall easy transition and have enjoyed running interactive and splash & wade programs, re-learning older behaviors that need some slight modification with the new layout, and even working on some new behaviors! Bob is learning an exercise behavior where he slides across the platforms and back into the water, similar to a "slip-and-slide." You wouldn't believe the vocalizations he makes when he is asked to do this new behavior!
Baby-Bit - B.B. started the month off strong, providing veterinarians with her monthly blood sample. B.B. accomplished this behavior like a pro, and all of the results came back completely normal. Fantastic news!
As anticipated by her trainers, B.B. was a little nervous of the new platforms at first, but within a week has acclimated perfectly. Now that she is offering all of her husbandry behaviors, trainers are focusing their attention on getting B.B. comfortable stationing (sitting) behind the new platforms.
Dinghy - If you read last month's newsletter, you learned about the specialized care we provide Dinghy in her older age. This month has been no different, and after a routine gastric sample suggested Ding may have a stomach ulcer, the vet team and trainers collected a series of advanced diagnostics before developing a treatment plan. First, Dinghy gave a voluntary blood sample for analysis, which came back completely normal. Then, Ding allowed the vet team to voluntarily pass an endoscope into the first chamber of her stomach, where ulceration was confirmed. Thus, the veterinarian prescribed a medication for Dinghy, designed to coat the ulcers and allow them to heal.
Based on initial follow-up diagnostics (another gastric sample), we feel the treatment is working! Dinghy is now gearing up to give an additional blood sample and will soon have a secondary scope to confirm the healing progress of the ulcers. None-the-less, Dinghy has remained in fantastic spirits and has also acclimated to the new platforms with ease.
Jessica - Jessica takes her position as matriarch very seriously and has demonstrated to the other dolphins her bravery with regard to the new dock system. During installation, Jessica (who is typically very timid and cautious), was the first to approach and station in front of the new docks and offered behaviors to her trainer, as she normally would. Despite being comfortable with the new platforms herself, she remains on high alert for her calf Jett! In true "helicopter mom" form, she was tuned into his every move throughout the dock installation and acclimation process the past few weeks and would never let him out of her sight.
Trainers are happy to report that she seems to be getting used to the new docks and is allowing Jett to approach the new docks with increasing frequency, as time passes.
Jett - Jett has had a fantastic month and is doing great! Surprisingly, he has been the most nervous of the new platforms (likely because of his mother's watchful eye), but is making progress and has started to offer different husbandry behaviors at the new platforms. Despite being somewhat nervous at first, Jett seems to enjoy all of the added variability trainers can now offer during their sessions with him!
Tug - Tug has been by-far the bravest dolphin throughout the installation/acclimation process. In fact, he was the first dolphin to go behind the docks (an area between the floating platforms and perimeter fence), which is an additional area for the dolphins to go during session. Tug is offering all of his husbandry behaviors at the new platforms and, like his brother, seems to really enjoy the variability the new layout provides.
Tug's month started off with a voluntary blood sample, which he accomplished with ease. He also continues to make progress on his beach behavior and can now slide his entire body out of the water onto a stretcher, atop a pad on the mechanical platform! Pretty amazing for a 4-year-old.