Tuesday, October 09, 2007

You Mean The Clicker Training Didn't Work?

SANTA CRUZ DE TENERIFE, Canary Islands - A killer whale at a marine park hit its trainer and dragged her underwater repeatedly until it finally freed the woman with a badly bruised chest and a broken arm, park officials said yesterday.

We keep hearing over and over again, from the clicker training fanatics, that clicker trainers who train sea mammals are superior trainers and know more about behavior. Well, then we shouldn't keep hearing about how sea mammals attack their trainers, right? But, we do. Why is that? If this method is so magical, then we shouldn't be seeing aggression towards anyone or any animal. Do a bit of research and you'll see that these types of incidents have happened before, and in some cases, the animals were aggressive in their attacks. Also notice that the trainers were never able to command the animals to stop attacking, they instead had to wait until the attack was over. Same with the zoo animals being clicker trained.

And, notice in the story that the killer whale only let go when it wanted to let go. Why couldn't the trainer just command the animal to stop? Because there are limitations to clicker training, and it isn't the panacea we are all being sold. That's true in the dolphin / killer whale / sea urchin world, it is true in the zoo world, and it's true in the dog world, too.

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