Rockome Gardens

Educated Animals

One of the stranger attractions at Rockome Gardens was a little rock-encrusted shack with the vending machine-like displays of performing animals. The displays were gone by 2005 in the photo above, but on an earlier visit in 2000 there were still a few on view:

Educated Animals

The animals were trained by Keller Breland's famous "Educated Animals"zoo attraction in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Keller and his wife Marian were psychologists who studied under B.F. Skinner. In the 1950s they gained fame for training animals with food rewards to do tricks and stunts for films and live audiences. At one time the couple were training more than 1,000 animals a year for research labs, movie studios and small vending machine displays at amusement parks across the country.

Educated Animals

A sign reassures the visitor that these animals are treated well, that they enjoy their activities and receive plenty of food and water. But one can't help but feel a bit sorry for the hungry duck that frantically dabbles at the piano keyboard in order to get the reward of a bit of cracked corn.

When the timer clicks to an end, the light snaps off, and the frantic duck races to a metal scoop where the vending machine deposits the food.

You can even dance with a chicken in a reflection.

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