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The use of positive reinforcement in training zebra sharks ( Stegostoma fasciatum)

By A. Marranzino

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Positive reinforcement training (PRT) was used on 4 adult zebra sharks, Stegostoma fasciatum, housed at the Downtown Aquarium, Denver, to determine the ability of zebra sharks to become desensitized to various stimuli associated with veterinary procedures. One male and 3 female sharks were trained for 12 weeks. As a result of PRT, all 4 zebra sharks were desensitized to staying within a closed holding tank off of the main exhibit, the presence of multiple trainers in the closed holding tank, and tactile stimulation. One of the 4 zebra sharks was also successfully desensitized to the presence of a stretcher being brought into the holding tank. All of these procedures are common in veterinary examinations, and it is hoped that desensitization to these stimuli will reduce the stress associated with examinations. The training accomplished has allowed for easier maintenance of the zebra sharks by the aquarium staff and an improvement in the care of the sharks.

Publication Title Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science
Volume 16
Issue 3
Pages 239-253
ISBN/ISSN 1088-8705
Publisher Taylor & Francis
DOI 10.1080/10888705.2013.798555
Language English
Author Address Downtown Aquarium, Denver, Colorado,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Animal physiology
  3. Animals
  4. Animal welfare
  5. APEC countries
  6. Aquacultural and fisheries
  7. Aquatic organisms
  8. Colorado
  9. Conditioning
  10. Countries
  11. Desensitization
  12. Developed countries
  13. Education
  14. Fish
  15. Hosts
  16. Immunity
  17. North America
  18. OECD countries
  19. peer-reviewed
  20. Resistance and Immunity
  21. sharks
  22. stimulation
  23. training
  24. United States of America
  25. vertebrates
  1. peer-reviewed