The trainer’s main tool, the Acme whistle

In the early years marine mammal trainers used to communicate with their animals during training sessions, using the fox whistle. Around 20 years ago we realized that such a harsh sound was not necessary, as these animals could hear to a very low frequency.

Although there are other ways of bridging/whistling to communicate with our animals, Acme whistles have been the favourite whistle for animal training, especially in our dolphinariums.

We encourage fading the use of fox whistles gradually, to the alternative Acme whistle and ultimately to using the lowest frequency whistle.

The story behind the Acme whistle

In the late 1800`s a British manufacturer based in Birmingham, invented a whistle that could be heard over many streets, to be used by policemen.

The company was family-run for over 100 years and by three generations of the Hudson family. Joseph Hudson began working at the age of 12 and in 1883 after noticing policemen struggling to communicate to each other and raising alarm, he realised his whistles could be a useful tool. He put a pea in the whistle which made a sound that could be heard over a mile away and sold the first police whistles to Scotland Yard in 1884. The Hudson whistles company became the largest manufacturer in the world and the Acme Thunderer whistle and its variations became the world’s best-selling whistle.

Why we encourage the use of the Acme whistle

When more than one trainer is using the fox whistle the sound can be quite distressing, even for us humans. Therefore fading use away from the fox to the Acme whistle is desirable because it is less harsh to the more sensitive hearing that marine mammals have. Whilst the fox whistle is still used in other animal related areas, we encourage an alternative whistle with less harsh sounds, for work with marine mammals.

The fading from use of the fox whistle to the Acme basic whistle and through to the lowest frequency Acme whistle shown above, is the best way to transition trainers and animals to use of these more suitable whistles.


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