"Because of their lack of intelligence, they respond to exactly what you ask them to do," zoo trainer Colleen Baird said. "It teaches our keepers how to concentrate on the three elements of training, (including) timing, criteria and rate of reinforcement."
To do that, the zookeepers work with chickens on pecking shapes and colors. Grove demonstrated how she uses a clicker called a "bridge" to teach Butterball to peck only the purple paper.
"If I would have bridged her for hitting the red (paper), she would have tried red the next time," Grove explained.
Franciotti reported that trainers have used chickens to train trainers to deal with animals like Dolly and Anna for about five years. The Baltimore staffers recently traveled to Hot Springs, Ark., where they learned from renowned animal trainer Bob Bailey.
"It just teaches you to be a better trainer. All the three elements you learn in chicken training helps tremendously when working with other animals," Grove said.