what you focus on expands

This is a friend, Jimmy who works in central Africa at a rehab centre.  Here he is with some Rhino.  Clearly he is in a good relationship with these guys.  In this type of work people are in relationship with big powerful and potentially dangerous animals.  We can never underestimate their power and even after years of working with these creatures we need to remain alert to the fact that they are wild animals who could, wittingly or unwittingly hurt us.  If they get a fright for example.  When working with horses in the round pen I have seen people thinking they have been charged by horses.  Interestingly, from my perspective, that is not always what has actually transpired.  Very often the horse has been spooked, and is looking for some security, and the trainer is where they have gone to find that security - because, till that point, that is how the trainer has presented to the horse - as their dependable leader.  There are occassions where animals do lash out and hurt their keepers, but there is always a reason - the animals are always doing what they think they need to do to be safe and secure.  If they are in an enclosure, and they are faced with a perceived challenge, they cannot choose flight as an option, only fight. 

It is much easier, therefore, when working with animals, to do so using behaviour technology.  Remain consistent and dependable.  If you need him to move to another exhibit or let you look at his foot, teach him how to cooperate.  Once he knows what to expect, he will be more inclined to cooperate.  If we are focussing on cooperation, then the animal has somebody to trust.  If we are focussing on coercion, then we have willingly entered into a battle.  Nobody wins in a battle.  There is no long term learning or positive effect.  We are simply breaking down relationshiup, defeating trust, and lowering the possibility of success into the future.


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