Animal care and training

  • 21 June 2012 | SAAMBR

Seal training

Dolphin trainer at work

Most seals are eager to learn

Kelp is used for seal enrichment


Animal training

Animal training stimulates mental and physical activity. uShaka Sea World uses operant conditioning when training the animals. Our focus is on building trust and developing a positive relationship with all the animals in our care. uShaka Sea World is affiliated with reputable animal training and behaviour organisations worldwide, such as:

  • IMATA (International Marine Animal Tainers' Association)
  • ABMA (Animal Behaviour Management Alliance).


The training that we do is broken down into three distinct groups:


Control training

These are foundation behaviours such as stay, out, target, shifting from area to area and allowing trainers to touch any part of their body.


Husbandry training

We train the animals to help us look after them. Husbandry behaviours range from simple behaviours such as body checks to more complex behaviours such as urine or milk collection. Training these behaviours allows our veterinarian to optimally look after the animals. Routine dolphin weighing is depicted in this picture.


Show training

These are the fun behaviours you will see the animals performing during presentations. They are often high-energy behaviours which stimulate physical activity. We usually focus on the show behaviours, once the control behaviours are understood.



Enrichment enables an animal to have power and choice over its environment.

We use social, cognitive, physical habitat, sensory and food-enrichment with the animals in our care. Enrichment provides physical fitness, contributes to longevity, reduces stress, decreases aggression, provides mental stimulation, promotes normal development and enhances learning. Seals are sometimes given kelp as enrichment. Not only does this allow the seals to exhibit natural behaviour, but also assists in cleaning the seals' teeth.

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