How Lion Taming Works

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lion-taming-4.jpg How can such an aggressive, humongous animal be made to be tamed by humans? The answer begins at birth, where the cub is separated from its mother and bonded with the tamer. The training techniques are actually not that dissimilar than training a dog. When the lion is ready to be trained, the tamers use a form of operative conditioning to get the results they want. This process coined by B.F. Skinner involves the tamers to slowly convince the lions to do what they want. The tamer will give the lion a reward for doing something anywhere close to what they want them to do. For example, when a trainer wants a lion to move left, any movement to the left is something positive. The trainer would reward the lion with something to eat. This form of positive reinforcement encourages the lion to do what the trainer wants them to do. He would then use a form of classical conditioning to associate some sort of action to what the lion has to do. The trainer may want the lion to move left when he snaps his finger. He would use this combination of classical and operative conditioning to get the lion to do what he wants the lion to do.

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Interesting topic! Many animals in the show business demonstrate the success of using techniques of conditioning and reinforcement to train them. There are also cases where the animal seems to have learned this behavior but after some years, it kills his owner.

I have always wondered how this works and it makes sense now. It's amazing how psych can be applied to everyday items and how prevalent it is in our lives.

Love the topic. I think animal training is fascinating, just because you sometimes forget how possible it is! The process is, I'm sure, very time consuming, but the same steps of conditioning are used for human and animals. Our minds are surprisingly similar.

This picture is impressive!! I think I will run for my life if a lion was facing me and roaring like in the picture.
I believe you did a good job with the article; very interesting. I liked how you used your article to explain the concept of classical conditioning.

I agree with what you stated in your blog. Good job correctly identifying the techniques that were used in the training of the lions. Also, the picture was very amusing and relevant to your topic.

This is a nice picture! And before reading this blog, I thought lions in the circus were fed from very young age, and they probably did not know they were lions. However, this blog teaches that these lions are actually trained under conditioning. All in all, this is a interesting blog!

Do you know if lion trainers ever use negative reinforcement to train their lions? I feel like whenever I hear of Operant Conditioning on animals it only refers to positive reinforcemen, such as rewarding the animal with some sort of a gift. What could a lion trainer take away though? Maybe the lions favorite toy? Would that be as effective?

Great Blog!

Great topic choice, perfect example of operant conditioning and positive reinforcement,
great way to explain how something so vicious and powerful could be tamed, its amazing how the brain can be shaped and trained, I also find the above comment interesting why negative reinforcement isn't used, I guess you wouldn't want to make a lion angry.
All in all great post.

I never really thought about how they are able to tame wild animals. This is pretty cool that it is similar to training a dog, I would think it would be way harder. I am sure it is just a lot scarier!! Neat how you found out that it is both classical conditioning and operative conditioning! Good job on keeping your blog short and interesting!

It always seems exciting when you see trained lions, tigers, etc. in movies, at the zoo, circus, etc. It is no doubt an impressive accomplishment! Good topic for discussion, and it relates very well to what we are studying. I'm sure these trainers have to hold a constant reinforcement with operant conditioning to make sure they stay with it. I always see the animals receiving a lot of food during the shows.

This post instantly caught my attention, first the roaring lion and then the title. I have never wondered how a lion is tamed, but after reading the title I realized I had no idea. Your post was very informative and relates perfectly to what we studied on the different types of conditioning!

Very cool use of operative conditioning! i never knew that is what they actually used to "tame" lions, i would debate if they are truly tame or trained, an animal such as a lion must have deeply seeded animalistic instincts but after so much time being conditioned to subdue them, we get circus lions. It would be interesting to see if this could be done to any wild animal, given the success of conditioning studies i would guess they probably would.

Its cool how lion taming is exactly what we read about in the psychology text book. I would be afraid to work with lions but this process seems very similar to training a dog. We rewarded my dog with treats when training him but we only gave him the reward after doing what we wanted. It probably would have been much faster training him if we rewarded him every time he did something close to what was right like the lion trainers.

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This page contains a single entry by gesko004 published on February 26, 2012 7:44 PM.

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