Fitness Friday: Watch out Michael Phelps!

Isaac has already showed us his impressive strength with a flipper stand. Another way these seals can show off their incredibly strong flippers is by doing the ever impressive speed swim. Fur seals can swim at impressive speeds, said to be over 10 mph!

Watch how easily Ursula glides through the water at a high speed.

Her trainers worked up her distance by starting close to the end point and gradually increased the distance. She can now swim the entire length of the pool! On average, people can swim at around 3 mph. Can you beat that?



Gene Simmons, eat your heart out

Rochelle posted a blog about seals sticking out their tongues when we first started the blog. I thought it would be neat to show you how we teach that behavior. I just taught Chacoda how to stick his tongue out like the others and here are the steps I took:

First, I needed to let him know what I was looking for. I wanted to use a little "tongue target." Since he is used to my fingers in his mouth (for mouth check-ups and brushing), I chose to use the smooth end of a toothbrush. Every time I touched the tip of his tongue with the end, I would bridge him and reward. I did this a few times, just to make sure he knew what I was looking for.

Then, I put the end close to his tongue, but didn't touch it. I wanted him to find the target he had been reinforced for so many times. Since I had made it clear that touching this = lots of fish, it was no surprise that he caught on quickly and pushed his tongue out toward the target.

I immediately bridged the forward motion and fed A LOT. I wanted to be sure he knew that pushing outward with his tongue was the motion I was looking for. This is where I introduced my signal, a tap on the nose. Each time I asked him to find the target and stick out that tongue, I tapped his nose so he would pair the two. Nose tap = stick out my tongue.

After approximating his tongue out to his lip, I was able to selectively bridge and reinforce the trials where his tongue was out the farthest, without using the toothbrush end.

With the correct reinforcement, I successfully taught him that tapping the end of his nose, meant stick out your tongue!


Fitness Friday: Man, those flippers are strong!

To show off his long, super strong front flippers, Isaac has learned how to do a flipperstand. This is just what it sounds like—the seal equivalent of a handstand! Watch the steps Isaac and Justin went through to show you the incredible strength of fur seals (and that's just the front flippers!).

 Can you do a handstand? Try learning how to do one the way Isaac did!