A Dog and Three Kittens…at the Zoo?
by | September 12th, 2011

Lily Rae, photo caption Colleen Kinzley

You may have already heard that we now have an Oakland Zoo Dog,  Lily Rae, and Zoo Cats, Billy, Scarlet and Calli. Lily Rae began her formal exhibit hours (formal only because she is often accessible for many other hours of the day, but these are the hours that the keepers can be sure will fit into their schedules) .  She is “on exhibit” Mon., Wed., Thurs., and Sundays at 10-11am and 2-3pm.  Often, she is hanging out with one of her keepers in the Contact Yard in with the goats and sheep where kids can pet and visit with her.  She has progressed much faster than we expected and has been exceptional in these direct contact situations. I had a wonderful experience one day with a young girl, maybe eight years old, who absolutely fell in love with Lily. She pet her for a half an hour and did not want to leave. Her Aunt had to promise they would come back. She didn’t have a dog at home, but really wanted one. Her Aunt said it was in the works, so we talked all about how to care for the dog and the importance of puppy classes and training.

Lily with her trainer and Keeper Chelsea, Photo credit: Colleen Kinzley

Lily Rae  graduated puppy training with Chelsea Williams from Bravo!Pup Puppy One,  a five week course where she practiced sit, down, loose leash walking, and stay. She is now taking Puppy Two with Cathy Keyes, where  she faces greater distractions and durations on her stays, learns to ‘go to place’ and eye contact among other things. Cathy and Chelsea are the two keepers that take Lily home at night. Early training is so important to insure that your dog becomes a good family member, but training can happen at any time. To learn more about puppy and dog training classes visit www.bravopup.com.

Lily Rae is a water baby and loves any opportunity to play in water, I’ve included a picture with her and the hose. She was a muddy mess shortly after this picture was taken.



Teen Wild Guides showing kittens to Zoo visitors

The kittens are also doing very well although they are proving to be a bit more challenging than Lily to train. They are much more interested in playing. The keepers are working on things like teaching the kittens to come when they are called and allow their nails to be trimmed.  Just like all of the animal training in the Zoo, it is done to care for the animals and only using positive reinforcement like food treats, praise, and petting.  We are working on the modifications to the Cat Cottage, so Zoo guests can come into the room to visit with the kittens. In the meantime, when the kittens have an attendant, they will hold the kittens up at a short fence for petting, which both the kids and the kittens are loving.

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