Doug Flynn visits the Louisville Zoo in the first of a three-part series. Also featured on the program are beekeeping at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill near Harrodsburg, Ky.; a profile of Col. Charles Young, a prominent African-American military leader and diplomat; and a visit to the town of Rosine, the home of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe and the Rosine Barn Jamboree.
Louisville Zoo, Part 1
If you’ve ever wondered how zookeepers get close enough to wild animals to feed them and take care of them, Jane Anne Franklin has the answers. Franklin is mammal curator and animal training supervisor at the Louisville Zoo.
Zookeepers must train the animals to allow humans to get close to them, she explained.
“These animals need to be trained to let us take the best care of them possible,” she said. “It allows us to get up close and personal to them, check them out, make sure they don’t have any issues. It lets us into their world, so any subtleties in their behavior, behavior changes, we’ll notice right away.”
The relationship is based on trust, she said. The trainers do some of their work with a barrier, like a chain-link fence, between themselves and the animals. The animals must choose to approach the trainer. “I cannot make a 500-pound bear come to me if it doesn’t want to,” she said. “So you either need to be motivating enough, or they need to trust you enough.”
Franklin said trainers use a whistle, the sound of which always means a reward to the animal. It also means the trainers can get the attention of an animal from some distance away.
Bart the sea lion, who has lived at the zoo all of his 23 years, focuses his attention on his trainer and reads body language. He lets his trainer check his eyes, ears, mouth and flippers each morning.
Despite the training, the animals are not tamed and are still wild animals, Franklin said. “Even though Bart was born in captivity, he’s not domesticated. So if he needs to tell you something, he’s pretty honest about it,” she said. “If he decides you’re in his face and he doesn’t care for it, he gives you cues. And we have to learn to read his cues.”
Is it tough to train an older animals?
“It takes a little more patience,” she said. “But honestly, some of these animals have seen so much, and they’ve had to make choices on their own, that they have taught themselves how to learn.”
Shaker Village Bees
Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill has 40-60 beehives on the property, in 12,000 acres of restored native prairie with wildflowers. Merin Roseman, sustainability programs specialist, said about 5-10 of those acres are used for educational programs. The rest are used to produce the honey sold at the village and used in the restaurants.
Col. Charles Young (1864-1922)
The first African-American colonel in the U.S. military, Charles Young was born in Mays Lick, Ky., in 1864.
A leader of the buffalo soldiers on the frontier who later led men in combat in the Philippines and Mexico, he was widely respected in the military and for his diverse talents in diplomacy, writing, and music.
Rosine: A Home for Bluegrass
It’s been 20 years since Bill Monroe passed away, and his hometown of Rosine hosts bluegrass music fans from the world over at his boyhood home and at the Rosine Barn Jamboree.
The boyhood home of the father of bluegrass music is open to visitors, and there’s no charge for tours. The home is furnished with period pieces, some of which are the originals.