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Choy goes to “Raw” at the Florida Aquarium
Excerpt WILD News June 2018.
Sea otters takes "selfie" with Choy Aming, BAMZ Aquarist
Last month BAMZ Aquarist, Choy Aming, was able to attend the Regional Aquatics Workshop - RAW - at the Florida Aquarium in Tampa, thanks to the funding from the Bermuda Zoological Society. The workshop took place from 14th-18th May, and according to Choy it was an intensive 5 days.
On the Monday, the attendees of the workshop were given an option to partake in an interactive animal welfare workshop, as the lectures did not start until the Tuesday. As the Florida Aquarium is a much bigger facility than BAMZ, they are able to have staff members that are specifically tasked with animal training, while other husbandry staff are tasked with the care of the animals and their enclosures. As a result, the animals at the facility are excellently trained.
Some of the trained behaviours were necessary for their care; the stingrays and grouper are target trained to make make it easier to examine them, and the nurse sharks are trained to rest on a 3ft deep platform within their habitat for similar reasons.
"Even though it was clear that the Florida Aquarium training staff have far more opportunities to spend time training their animals, it was really nice to see what is possible with our smaller facility," said Choy. "It was great to watch and learn new and innovative training techniques and ideas that I could take back to BAMZ."
For the rest of the week there were 20-minute Tedtalk-style presentations throughout the day, with 8-10 presentations happening per day. There was also the option to choose which presentations were the most relevant to attend. For example, there were presentations on water chemistry, which were relevant to staff of the many inland facilities in the United States as they have to create their own sea water for their habitats. As we take water directly from Harrington Sound to fill our aquarium habitats, these lectures were not necessary for Choy to attend.
One of the most convenient parts of the conference was that all of the talks were provided as videos to attendees after the conference was complete. Since returning to BAMZ, Choy has been able to share these videos and what he learned with his fellow Aquarists, and also some of the zoo husbandry staff.