Target: a tool used to pinpoint the critical location for an animal in training.
The Clearwater Marine Aquarium Training Department uses several different targeting tools when working with their resident animals.
With the otters, they use their fists and target poles with colored tape edges. With the dolphins, they use their palms and target poles with buoy on the end. Even though their hands are greatly different from the target poles, their function is the same. Through the use of a target pole or their hands, they can guide and direct an animal. This direction can be a body contact point when stationary, a destination point, or a direction of movement (example: Front Flip – following target pole around).
Any animal can be target trained, but a very important factor to keep in mind when working with different species is knowing what portion of the body that particular species use to explore its environments. For example, when working with Rivir Otters, they target their snout (nose) because they are very olfactory-oriented and that is the first part of their body they use to investigate new environments. With Sea Otters, on the other hand, they would target their paws and not their noses becasue they are more tactile-oriented and will use their paws first to explore their environments.
Want to learn more about CMA’s current resident animals? Please visit Meet Our Animals.