With only one day left to train the ring-tailed lemurs at Zoo Atlanta, today's training session felt like a pivotal moment in my two weeks of lemur training. As we approach the finish line, one lemur holds a clear lead: Neal! Although Jason and Ringo are doing very well, and even Julius is starting to make progress, Neal may actually satisfy my idealistic training goals by tomorrow afternoon.
This afternoon, with the help of Alicia, one of my fellow keepers, we put Neal to the test--first discovering that he would follow his target stick if held by someone other than me, and then watching him distinguish between three of the target sticks, each held far apart. Tomorrow, I hope to test with all four target sticks, and if he gets that, he will have mastered my targeting goals! Furthermore, Neal has also demonstrated that he can return to his station with only a verbal command (without the trainer touching the carabiner). This is excellent news, since I had been concerned that the ring-tailed lemurs might have problems with a mobile station, given their difficulties with object permanence problems. Neal has shown that with careful training and a very attentive lemur, many great things are possible. Go Neal!