Keeper Cheyenne Darkins is hard at work training our three Carpathian lynx and Dave is proving to be her star pupil.
The seven-year-old lynx is excelling at the target training sessions, so much so he’s flying ahead of Daisy and son, Dakota who are still only getting to grips with the basics.
Cheyenne said: “I started the basic training with all three cats about four months ago, getting them to touch a wooden target with their nose and hold for five seconds until I click a button and reward them with a chunk of meat.
“I’ve also been able to get them to step onto weighing scales using the target training which is helping us monitor their health, but it’s Dave who is progressing massively and I’ve been able to move onto injection training with him, which will hopefully help with minor veterinary procedures in the future.”
As part of the medical training, Cheyenne brings Dave to the corner of his enclosure, getting him to lie down between the mesh and a strategically placed log for a minute, while one keeper holds the target and feeds him treats, allowing a second person to administer the injection.
For the training process a keeper uses a blunt syringe to gently press Dave in his thigh, so he gets used to the feeling and method, before he gets rewarded with his favourite meaty treat again.
And training sessions are kept short and sweet, only around 10 minutes long twice a week, so the animals don’t lose momentum.
Cheyenne added: “I’m really pleased with how Dave is doing, he picks things up so quickly and is almost ready to move on to another level, such as either opening his mouth on command, or holding his paw up against the mesh so we can check that.
“Training takes a while and will continue to be an ongoing process with all three, but it has lots of benefits for them in the long run.”