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Whale Training

In: Social Issues

Submitted By domsohood
Words 891
Pages 4
Working as a whale trainer at SeaWorld has become a dream job for almost any child who has witnessed the wonder of Shamu. The

History of career field

People have been training animals for thousands of years. Historically, falconers have trained hawks. Dogs have been trained for hunting, for herding livestock, and for pulling sleds. Elephants have been trained to pull or carry logs. Horses and camels have been trained for riding and hauling.
Compared to other types of animal training, marine mammal training is a relatively new field. People have been training killer whales for only about the past 35 years. SeaWorld animal trainers began working with bottlenose dolphins in 1963 before the first park opened.

Requirements

Each year, hundreds of men and women apply for positions in SeaWorld's and Busch Gardens' Animal Training departments. The number of openings is generally limited to fewer than 10 hires per park each year.
For SeaWorld, a college degree is not required to be eligible for an animal training position, but it is preferred. Applicants are expected to complete some college coursework in biology, marine biology, zoology, and animal behavior or psychology. Colorado Mountain College, Quinnipiac College, and University of Florida are among many listed and recommended by SeaWorld that offer Zoo research and management programs.
Prior experience with large animals is preferred. Experience working with horses or birds, working on a farm, or volunteering at an animal hospital is beneficial.
Trainers must have SCUBA and CPR certificates, as well as basic first aid skills.
One of the most difficult requirements to fulfill is the rigorous swim test. The test includes a 67 m (220 ft.) freestyle swim and a 33 m (110 ft.) underwater swim. The applicant must also perform a 7.3 m (24 ft.) free dive to retrieve a relatively small weight and bring it to the surface. Finally, animal trainers must be able to perform and speak in front of large audiences. They may also be required to answer questions for tours and other small groups. For this reason, strong communication skills and experience in public speaking or drama are desirable traits among trainer applicants.

Getting Started

Zoos and aquariums often hire qualified people from within their own ranks. Those hopeful for an animal training career may break into the field by taking a job in another department. It is important to be previously involved at a SeaWorld location. Starting in any department is a good way to get "your foot in the door". While gaining park experience and knowledge, you can establish yourself as a reliable and ambitious team member. This strategy may greatly increase your chances of working with the whales in the future.
Once accepted to the program, an on-the-job apprenticeship is required of each new trainer. The apprenticeship period may last a year or more, even if new trainers have had animal training experience somewhere else. During their apprenticeship, new trainers learn animal training methods, and become familiar with the animals, their personalities, feeding, and care.

Benefits

Working in and around the tanks all day keeps trainers in great physical condition. Their bodies need to be their strongest in order to work with the massive whales.
The unique ability to observe and learn directly from live animals increases public awareness and appreciation of wildlife to millions of zoological park visitors.
Animal training has benefited research for many years. By training animals to respond to various stimuli in their environment, researchers can gather scientific information that would not otherwise be available. The information gathered at the parks, combined with the results of field observations, have contributed to the body of knowledge about many types of animals.
Working with killer whales is an adventurous career. Instead of sitting in an office you are involved in hands on excitement. Workers learn something knew every day while building connections between the human and the animal. It is a rewarding experience in which trainers can pride themselves on what they have taught the animals.

Drawbacks

The typical salary of a trainer averages only $30,000/ year. Another source (http://salary-surveys.erieri.com/content/Veterinary_Services_and_Animal_Care_Salary_Survey/Animal_Trainer_3115/US_National.htm) claimed that starting salaries were around $27,000 and that after ten years of experience a trainer would earn between $36,000 and $40,000 annually. No sources indicated a trainer earning more than $40,000 a year. The daily responsibilities of a whale trainer are very physically demanding. A lot of a trainer’s day is spent in the tanks scrubbing algae off the walls. Training takes places before, between, and after shows daily beginning at 5am. Daily tasks of trainers involve making up fish buckets, stuffing vitamins and medicines in fish, scrubbing the fish room, cleaning up and setting up for shows, and feeding the whales.
There are limited locations. SeaWorld has just three parks in the United States. There is one in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio.
Killer Whales really are life threatening. In February of 2010 Dawn Brancheau was drowned to death while training 12,000-pound Tilikum. Tilikum is connected to three deaths in history. These are only a few among dozens of attacks on people by whales kept in captivity.
Finally, there is no job security. Trainers risk their jobs if they get too old, too injured, or gain or lose too much weight.
Conclusion…...

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