The Art of Foundation

954895_10153118165625716_1314265783_nArt doesn’t really interest me. The museums with paintings etc they just don’t get me at all. Art is not just paintings, when I was younger I used to breakdance a lot. Breakdance is part of a culture and is an art. If you can control your body in such a way that you can do many crazy movement but still using the music to make it a dance is incredibly difficult. There has to be a foundation you need to establish to make the hard movements work.

Art is just a 3 letter word but through art we can actually make ourselfs escape in what we love to do or to look at. My brother is a DJ and he discovered the art of producing his music and he makes extroardinary good songs. His DJ name is Seconds NL Look him up. First he had to learn the foundation of the music and programs he uses. When we understand the foundation you need to accomplish to reach higher grounds we are actually 80% of where we would like to be. After these steps we just need imagination to know how to get that last 20% or even 200% if you are a very opportunistic person.

At Kolmården Djurpark we have a privilege to find new ways to make our efficientie work better. Now you might think every zoo has that but I mean we really can do whatever it takes. Training, enrichment etc. etc. and the zoo supports us very well. This gives a foundation platform from higher up to make us do what we would like to do, trust is the main foundation in this case. Don’t get me wrong there are rules but you know what I mean. Foundation is the key. We can’t build a house if the foundation isn’t there yet.

Back to basics my little sister told me once. What she meant back then is just back to simple life matters. (Sleeping in the forest was what she referred to) This made me think, within the zoo world aren’t we just thinking to difficult at times that we forget the simplicity of what effect foundation has? Changes in environments with natural components in not very hard but its great enrichment for the animals. Recalls do the same, simple signals that lets the animal know whatever you are doing come inside or come to the trainer what gives the animal a variety of enrichment. The animals have to be alert and it can happen at many occasions in a day. What makes recalls potentially great enrichment and it gives the efficiency for the trainers.


Foundation is a forgotten art. We want to train the most crazy behaviours where we generalise that this must be hard for an animal there for I give you a higher reinforcement schedule but lets start thinking about how to get there with the foundation we need. Then you discover that foundation behaviour could have the same level of criteria It’s just that we generalise this behaviour as being difficult. At our zoo we started to review our foundation behaviours and sum up what we need for each individual or species depending on their exhibit structures. Getting recalls, call overs, separation’s, gatings, selection its al very important but very under rated. We should reinforce a blood sampling as much as a gating. This should not depend on the criteria. Its just the art of foundation that is under rated. If we do not focus on this art all other behaviours are going to fall down. It seems like we all want to train frontflips but what about having an animal in proper control? Or being able to work a group of animals all by our own?

The art of foundation is a forgotten part in animal training. The variation we can give with just foundation is incredible. We just need to open our eyes and be creative enough to acknowledge how effective strong foundation behaviours can be.

SeaWorlds pet show is mostly based on foundation and believe me their show is just funny and amazing but its a simple A-B show most of the time. Kolmårdens Djurpark “Wings (birds of prey)” show is done by A-B’s, call overs, control and transport boxes. With these behaviours we can make demonstrations, do research, check our animals health and being more efficient in our days.

Know the art of foundation and recognise how this can affect the animals and your days. Like my sister said lets go Back to Basic!

Peter Giljam

“Thinking Outside the Zoo”



Peter is a passionate Animal Consultant that beside teaching you about Operant Conditioning makes sure you will go home motivated and inspired. Make sure you read his Bio!


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