Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A New Friend

For the last 6 months I have had the opportunity to help train a Golden Eagle that we call Zeus.  The process has been a learning experience for all that have been involved.

Zeus waiting for his new phase of training (photo by Mike Cerutti)

Coming up this summer Zeus will be going to the Milwaukee County Zoo with a coworker of mine, Leah Tyndall, and a team of 3 other World Bird Sanctuary staff.  This staff will have around 20 birds, and the whole team will be presenting educational programs or, for short, “Zoo Shows.”  With that being said, the date is approaching that Zeus will be on his way to Milwaukee.

Zeus was given to WBS by a local falconer and brought to us in August 2012 as a young bird with a very strong spirit.  It was decided from the beginning that Zeus would be trained to one day fly in our educational programs, and help us educate the public about Golden Eagles. 

With the end goal set, the team of trainers set out to teach this amazing bird.  There are many, many other behaviors to train before the ultimate goal is achieved, and many of these behaviors were trained from September 2012 to August 2013.  Let’s move to last September.  It was decided that when Leah and all of our other staff and volunteers returned from Zoo shows, we would kick the training into another gear to make sure Zeus would be ready to go to Milwaukee this season.
When this was all decided in September I was thrown into the mix because Zeus needed to learn to trust many trainers; not just one or two trainers.  I have worked at WBS for almost 3 years, and in that time I have handled and done several events with our two other Golden Eagles, but they had been with WBS for over ten years and were already well trained.

Zeus our young Golden Eagle is in the process of learning many new behaviors (photo by Gay Schroer)

Every day presents new hurdles for Zeus and the trainer, but because of what Zeus has already learned, these hurdles are small and easily jumped.  In looking back on his accomplishments, he has grown up and learned so many things. We now are able to walk with him while he is sitting on our eagle glove and calmly stand in front of small groups of people.  He stands on a scale, steps confidently from a perch to 8 different trainers’ gloves, and the list goes on and on and is always growing!

Zeus will be missed by many this summer while he’s in Milwaukee, but when he comes back he will be even closer in his training to moving toward the final goal of free flying in front of the public!

Submitted by Adam Triska, World Bird Sanctuary Naturalist/Trainer

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