Learning with Matilda

Shannan and Matilda the Black VultureWorking with Matilda, the Black Vulture, has been one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of working at Shaver’s Creek for me!

I began my journey with Matilda when I first started working as a Shift Leader for animal care. She was known for being very high-strung and difficult to work with because of her speed and highly curious nature. When I first started training her, I didn’t feel I had the proper training skills to do well, but with direction from my co-workers, I kept trying.

Eventually, I learned how to communicate with her and how to read her body language better and became her lead trainer, which was intimidating, yet rewarding. Once I was her lead trainer, I was able to take the initiative to teach her new behaviors, and I took on the role of teaching others how to work with her.

Teaching others how to train a “challenging” animal was a lot more difficult than I thought! When I asked new trainers to pause, they wouldn’t pause for long enough, or if I asked them to step backward, they would step too little or too far. Eventually, I learned how to communicate training steps more effectively, and through collaboration with my co-workers and other volunteers, we were able to train Matilda to come outside of her enclosure on supervised walks: a longtime goal!

Working with Matilda also required doing programs with her, since she is popular among the public due to her sociable personality. I have always been intimidated by public speaking, but when in the mew working with Matilda and focusing on her skills, I felt a lot more confident and was happy to share her uniqueness with the public!

Three years later, I am still her lead trainer and am loving training with her! We are currently working on learning voluntary medical behaviors, and I am still learning and gaining skills every day from this wonderful bird.

One thought on “Learning with Matilda

  1. Great work you are doing with her. I like Matilda; I have had one way conversations with her outside her enclosure.

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