Cool Stuff, Strange Things
Today: I.Q. Zoo
Once upon a time, in Hot Springs, Arkansas, you could watch Leonardo Duck Caprio, and Kate Winslet escape from the Titanic as Celine Dion belted out “My Heart Will Go On.” These ducks, yes ducks, were trained to melt your heart.
Founded in 1955, by married couple Keller and Marian Breland, I.Q. Zoo didn’t start off as a tourist attraction. This research facility was a place where the Brelands used a method called “operant conditioning” to train animals to do extraordinary things.
The couple met while working with psychologist B.F. Skinner who was recruited to work with him on a secret government assignment in 1942: Project Pelican.
Believe it or not, the project was created to train pigeons to guide missiles in World War II! Unfortunately, it never did take off, but the Brelands noticed that operant conditioning and positive reinforcement could be commercially successfully.
Guests could come to I.Q. Zoo and watch a hamster go full Tarzan on a little trapeze, and even see a bunny kiss on command! The most popular exhibit was “Bird Brain.” It was there you could play tic-tac-toe against a chicken. By the way, the chicken ALWAYS won. Say what?!
As the I.Q. Zoo grew, so did their species of animals. They trained a reindeer to operate a printing press and parrots to roller skate.
Keller died of a heart attack in 1965, but Marian kept the I.Q. Zoo opened till 1990. If it weren’t for this spectacular roadside attraction, we would never be able to cherish these amazing, heartfelt TV and motion picture moments.
Would you visit the I.Q. Zoo? Let us know a comment below!
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