Trunkline Magazine (Louisville Zoo) Trunkline Magazine: September 2017 | Page 6

Gorilla Casey ineracts with a visiting family at the Louisville Zoo the articles and bother staff with questions), but I do have three cats. And I shudder every time I think about having to transport these cats anywhere because I know it’s going to be a complicated process: from leaving the cat carrier out a few days so the cats will feel comfort- able, to gathering food, to listing medications and so on. Now, try to imagine preparing for the moves of multiple 400+ pound gorillas like Mshindi and Casey. Then, tag on state and federal regu- lations and permits, each specialized to the individual species. Before the move, teams from all the zoos involved are activated, gathering information about the an- imal’s health, diet, habits, vaccina- tions, training, day-to-day care and more. Keeper staff, as in the case of Casey and Mshindi, may go to visit the animals to get an understand- ing of their needs and personalities and to begin the bonding process. Louisville’s keeper Michelle Wise spent three days in New Orleans meeting with Casey’s keepers and getting to know his routines. Getting an animal physi- cally transported is its own puzzle. Which vehicle is best to transport animals this large? What are the regulations for animal crates? Do we take the animals ourselves or hire animal transport services? Do we need a permit? Do we build our own crate or do we borrow one from someone who has transported an animal like this before? While all that is being sorted out, other preparations are already tak- ing place. I know my cats really dis- like doing anything when they don’t know what to expect. So, how do the keepers train a gorilla to move from a familiar exhibit to an unfa- miliar carrier? In Mshindi’s case, he was trained using operant condi- tioning (positive reinforcement) by keepers Alexis Dufilho Williamson and Michelle Wise to enter into his large crate and feel comfortable once it was secured. Mshindi and Casey, being highly social animals, also needed to be trained to fully separate from their family groups. 6 • Louisville Zoo Trunkline • Fall 2017 This training is useful for trans- port but it’s also critical in case the animals ever require medical treat- ment where isolation is necessary. I checked back in with Steve Taylor about whether our animals are sedated when they are moved. The answer was an emphatic “No. Our animals are never transported when sedated. We always want them to be aware of what’s happening. It’s important to their acclimation process and their health.” So there you have it. Just before a move, a pre-trip health exam is usually performed so that keepers and vet staff know exactly what condition the animals are in, what to expect and how to ensure a safe transfer. When a gorilla is transported, regardless of the vehicle, a keeper and sometimes a vet will travel alongside the animal with constant access to monitor its health and condition. After the animal arrives at its new facility’s quarantine habitat, the keeper often stays for a couple of days to help it set