The program covers basic marine mammal biology and elementary training techniques. The course also focuses on the attitudes of the trainers.
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The training program is often revised to keep up with the most updated information and techniques in training of marine mammals. Apart from this fundamental course, the Marine Mammal Department also provides on-the-job training.
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Ma said she will never forget how nervous she was when she first participated in a show. Wong said apprentices have to learn through both observing and interacting with marine mammals. As a senior marine mammal supervisor, Mr. Wong has two tasks in the training program. The first is to provide apprentices with adequate marine mammal information. For example, he recommends reference books and video programs to the juniors. He said there are only few sources of information about marine mammals in Hong Kong.
Seniors also have to demonstrate how to train marine mammals. Since the job involves different skills, juniors may not be able to do their job even if they have got all the necessary information. So the supervisors have to show them how the work can be done. But a marine mammal trainer needs more than just knowledge and skill. Said Mr. But that is exactly something we cannot teach. Thus, Mr. Wong suggested that prospective marine mammal trainers should try to be caring and patient. That said, some apprentices find it difficult to communicate with the animals.
The best way to learn about job opportunities is to become a member of an established reliable professional organization. For instance, IMATA, like other professional organizations, publishes a quarterly magazine, Soundings, which includes not only current information but job availabilities as well. It is relatively easy to gain practical experience and knowledge before you professionally enter the field of your choice. Volunteering and interning provide you with experience in a hands on setting before you make your final decision on which career to pursue.
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