Dolphins are the most popular and probably smartest marine mammals. That is why it is difficult to find a zoo or an aquarium without a dolphinarium that makes shows with the public present.
These shows are possible thanks to very sophisticated training techniques, which should be noted that have changed radically in recent decades.
So, most European and American coaches are governed by the new learning techniques, more friendly, fast and effective than the traditional ones We tell you how dolphins are trained so that they also enjoy the shows.
Dolphins in captivity
Current laws prevent hunting animals in freedom to take them to enclosures such as zoos or aquariums. In fact, very rigorous controls are available to control where each of the animals that we can visit in captivity come from.
In this sense, many years ago the animals we see in captivity, or have been rescued and cannot live again in freedom, or have been born in captivity and, therefore, they could not survive in nature.
With respect to some especially long-lived animals, some specimens that were caught in their day still survive, but they are the exception.
As we just commented, the dolphins that we can see in zoos or aquariums have been rescued or born on the premises, so they are not in captivity for our enjoyment, it is the only place where they are prepared to live.
The need to train
The Dolphins They are animals of extraordinary intelligence who love to learn and play. Aquariums design shows with animals because that kind of mental and physical exercise is necessary for them. If these animals did not pose mental challenges, such as learning choreographies, they would get bored to depression or madness.
With the shows, in addition, money is raised that helps to maintain the facilities and hire trainers and veterinarians. Maintaining a place like a dolphinarium costs a lot of money and, Since dolphins would have to be busy learning and playing, it is used to pay for expenses.
The use of the clicker, a positive reinforcement
The clicker, therefore, only It is based on positive reinforcement.If the dolphin does not want to train or if he fails to exercise, he is never punished, but he only receives awards when he does well and these are an extra to his diet.
It should be noted, in this case, that Dolphins are not hungry when they train. Your motivation is to eat something appetizing or the satisfaction of achieving exercise.
It is a totally kind and voluntary method. If the dolphin doesn't want to learn, he just doesn't get his sardine. The trainers say that there are dolphins that go through times that do not want to go out to the pool of the shows and are not forced, while there are others who are eager to win their fish.
The clicker in other species
The clicker works in any species and, according to Karen Pryor, fish have been trained to put a ball in a basket.
In addition to its use for dolphins, The clicker is used a lot with dogs. Clicker training can be used to prepare dogs for sports competitions such as agility or for the police service. Dogs that detect drugs or explosives begin their clicker training.
Horses are also trained with the clicker technique. This technique It allows training without touching or forcing the animal, so it is especially useful in large animals. Rhinos or elephants in zoos are also trained with clicker so they know how to behave during veterinary visits.
The dolphins we see doing shows in zoos and modern aquariums are not animals captured from life in freedom and they are trained for their well-being. Thanks to how they train dolphins they have begun to teach other things to other less intelligent animals. Fortunately, dolphinariums are no longer cruel to their dolphins.
Source of the main image: Gerald Carter