Animal Emotions

Do animals think and feel?

Guinea Pigs Playing Basketball: Teaching and Enrichment

A video of two guinea pigs playing basketball is a lesson in positive training

It's said that a picture is worth 1000 words. If this is so, and it often is, this video of two guinea pigs learning to play basketball to the tune of Sweet Georgia Brown is worth countless words. And, it's a wonderful activity and very creative lesson in humane education developed by animal trainer Barbara Heidenreich in what can be done to make the lives of companion animals more enjoyable and richer using only positive reinforcement. 

I hope this video is shared widely because it shows how patience pays off, and this is clearly evident in the behavior of these two lucky guinea pigs -- they're really having fun. Please watch the entire show to see how different tactics and individual differences emerge. While neither could play for the Harlem Globetrotters who have dazzled millions of people by performing incredible tricks to the tune of Sweet Georgia Brown, the guinea pigs do pretty well in learning the game. And, there is no reason why other animals cannot also be trained in similar ways. 

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The teaser image is from the video called "Just a Couple of Guinea Pigs Playing Basketball."

Marc Bekoff's latest books are Jasper's story: Saving moon bears (with Jill Robinson; see also), Ignoring nature no more: The case for compassionate conservation (see also)and Why dogs hump and bees get depressed (see also). Rewilding our hearts: Building pathways of compassion and coexistence will be published fall 2014. (marcbekoff.com@MarcBekoff

Marc Bekoff, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

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