"That is so cool, Whale!"
People have been training animals for thousands of years. Historically, horses have been trained for riding. Dogs have been trained for pulling sleds and herding livestock. Even, hawks have been trained by falconers for hunting. From these examples, we can see that animals can only be trained to do what they are physically capable of doing. At SeaWorld, experienced trainers, keepers and veterinarians apply the shaping and conditioning techniques to marine animals in order to educate people.The unique ability to observe and learn directly from live animals can increase public awareness and appreciation of wildlife. Killer whale calves follow their mothers and try to imitate everything they do continuously. This includes show behaviors. By a calf's first year, it may have learned more than a dozen show behaviors by just mimicking and observing its mother. In fact, there are more benefits than just the show behaviors. With the trained killer whales, researchers of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute (HSWRI) were able to conduct studies on the vocal development of killer whale calves. With the help of trainers, researchers were able to record calf vocalizations and track the development of the calf's vocalization repertoire. They compared the calf's repertoire to its mother's and those of the other whales in its real environment (ocean). The results of the study proved that a killer whale calf learns vocalization types from its mother. Without training these marine mammals to perform certain behaviors regarding this research, researchers would not be able to conduct this experiment. This explains much that animals often learn through observation, that is by watching other animals. Instead of applying classical conditioning in which depending on just the stimuli and the involuntary responses, trainers apply operant conditioning where the response requires thought and action, to most of the animals. The fact that training an animal requires professional trainers is incorrect. With a little know-how and a lot of patience, people can train their own pets to perform many behaviors, as well as the cool one.