What do these names have in common? They are all the names of tractable animals at the Edmonton Valley Zoo!

What is a tractable animal, you ask? Well, a tractable animal is one that is capable of being easily handled, managed, led, and/or trained. These animals are comfortable being around people and many are trained to showcase their unique natural behaviours to guests using positive reinforcement training methods.

We also refer to our tractable animals as ambassador or program animals, as they play an important role interacting with the public in support of the zoo’s educational and conservation goals. These animals allow our interpreters, zookeepers, and Urban Farm staff to engage audiences and provide Get Closer experiences to guests of all ages.

Canada’s Accredited Zoo’s and Aquariums (CAZA) supports the appropriate use of tractable animals as an important and powerful educational tool to enhance messages about conservation, wildlife, and animal welfare. The Edmonton Valley Zoo’s Tractable Animal Committee designs policies, usage guidelines, handling techniques, and creates tractable animal selection criteria. They also set standards for training staff in the handling of these amazing ambassador animals.

The tractable animal collection includes snakes, lizards, armadillos, owls, rabbits, tortoises, ferrets, rats, quail, reindeer, and the list goes on! Some are on display in the Saito Centre, EdVenture Lodge, and Urban Farm while others, such as the raptors, are housed off display.

Many of our smaller, exotic tractable snakes, armadillos, rats are used for educational programs such as Zoo School, sleepovers, group programs, and our popular Traveling Zoo Van programs. Guests are even invited to touch some of these special animals!

Our domesticated tractables, including sheep, goats, cows, chickens and rabbits, live in the Urban Farm where guests can enjoy a Get Closer farm yard experience. Many of our larger tractable animals are handled by zookeepers during our daily animal talks. Even though these are no touch animals, it’s still pretty neat to see them right up close!

As well, our tractable animals can be seen during unscheduled roving interpretation encounters when staff member wander throughout the zoo offering guests a chance to meet them. Guests are thrilled by these exciting and unexpected meet-ups.

So, what’s in a name? Phoebe, our Crested Gecko, was already named when she was donated to our collection. Usually, though, zoo staff dream up the tractable animal names. We recently acquired six baby rats and the education team named them in honour of Disney animal sidekicks: Meeko, Gus Gus, Pascal, Zazu, Abu and Raja. Can you guess the Disney movies they came from?

Want to meet some of our tractable animals in person?
Join us for Zoominescence: A Festival of Lights 2017!