Kya the clouded leopard leaps through the air, each graceful jump punctuated by a staccato clicking sound. She turns and bares her long, saber-like teeth in a Cheshire cat grin. The audience responds with a burst of applause, and Kya is rewarded with a treat.
Next up, Karroo, a majestic South African cheetah, enters stage left, led by a trainer with a clicker in hand. No stranger to the spotlight, this confident cat made her first TV appearance with animal expert Jack Hanna as a kitten.
Welcome to the San Diego Zoo, where the art of training big cats is a staple of the zoo’s educational outreach. The clicking sounds audiences hear while big cats perform in shows are a key component of clicker training, a technique used to reinforce desired behaviors in cats and other animals.
**Get the October 2008 issue of CAT FANCY to read the full article.**
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