ABMA Annual Conference

The 2019 ABMA conference will be April 7-12 in Portland, OR  

"A better future for wildlife through excellence in behavior management"

The Benson Hotel is offering a conference rate of $189.  BOOK HERE.

The Oregon Zoo is hosting.

Watch the conference video!

Learn more about Portland.

Quick Links for Conference Information

BMF Scholarship

Did you know that ABMA’s Behavior Management Fund (BMF) committee has a travel scholarship available for one lucky member at each of our annual conferences? Abstract deadline for the BMF Travel Scholarship has passed. Please submit the complete BMF Travel Scholarship application package to be considered.   
This scholarship is to assist an ABMA member whose institution is unable to give them financial support. The Travel Scholarship will help the award recipient by giving them the ability to present their work and it will help the organization by giving ABMA members the opportunity to hear presentations that the membership otherwise would not have the opportunity to hear and as such, the Travel Scholarship supports the ABMA Core Value of “Sharing the Knowledge.”

The abstract submission deadlines for the 2019 annual conference in Portland are:
Abstracts due- 15 January by 11:59pm EST
Winner notified- 1 February
Winner accept/deny- 8 February

The scholarship will provide:
• Transportation: Up to $500.00 reimbursed at Conference with receipt of purchased ticket or based on government per diem if driving, verification of mileage is required.
• Hotel room for the entire conference.
• Conference registration fee (including site visits, the banquet, and any meals included with registration).
*Airport to hotel transportation and meals on your own will not be provided.
Applicant Requirements
• Applicant must be an ABMA member in good standing. ABMA membership must be valid through the dates of the conference for the given Travel Scholarship Award year.
• Applicant may not have received this scholarship in the previous year.
• Applicant must submit the online abstract submission form, check the BMF scholarship box within the form, and complete the additional scholarship questions after checking the BMF box within the online form.  Incomplete submissions will not be considered. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure application materials are complete; applicants will not be notified if the application materials are incomplete.

Application Process:
There are 3 required components of the BMF Travel Scholarship application:
1. Complete the online Abstract Submission Form  Don’t forget to check the box for BMF!
2. Complete the BMF questions within the online abstract submission form after you check the box for BMF.
3. Travel Scholarship winner must officially accept the award within one week of email notification, otherwise the award will be offered to the runner-up.

Abstract Submissions
If you have a behavior management accomplishment, an intriguing case study, a research project, or innovation for the field, especially one that resonates with the theme of the conference, please come share it with your colleagues!

Abstract review will be based on quality of the abstract, content and subject matter of the paper, application of the ABMA mission statement, and incorporation of the theme of the conference.  Please keep in mind that we receive a number of quality submissions each year, and not all abstracts can necessarily be accepted for presentation.  When your abstract is accepted for either a poster or presentation you are required to submit a paper for the conference proceedings prior to presenting.  This submission deadline is one week before the conference.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Conference Content Advisory Committee Co-Chair, Antonio Ramirez, at abmaabstracts@gmail.com  or the 2019 Vice President, Kelly Elkins at kelkins@sandiegozoo.org.

Presentations are 20 minutes total.  Presenters should plan for a few minutes of questions afterwards (e.g. 17 minute presentation, 3 minutes for questions).  It is encouraged to be available for questions throughout the remainder of the week.  Poster presenters are required to stand by their posters on poster night and discuss their poster with conference attendees.  Posters will be available to view during the entire conference so please be prepared to turn in your poster at registration so it can be set up the next day.  If poster night is held off site, ABMA will transport and set up  your poster but you are responsible for it after poster night concludes.

Timeline for 2019 Abstract Submissions:

15 January- abstracts due by 11:59pm EST

1 February- notifications to presenters

15 February- presenters accept/decline

31 March- papers due for proceedings

Conference Registration

If you’re an AAZK or IMATA member you can receive the ABMA member rate!  Please submit the Conference Registration Form to abma@theabma.orgWe do not accept American Express.  

Weekly Registration Pricing:

Weekly registrations are for the week of 7-12 April 2019.  The evening of the 7th is our icebreaker.  The evening of the 12th is our banquet.  The icebreaker and the banquet are included in the cost of your weekly registration- do not purchase these from the a la carte menu unless you plan to have an extra person attend for that event only.  There will be no weekly registrations the week before the conference to allow us time to compile accurate numbers to the hotel.

Member Early registration (week) $350 available for purchase until 28 February 2018.  The next day, 1 March, the price increases.

Non-member Early registration (week) $410 available for purchase from until 28 February 2018.  The next day, 1 March, the price increases.

Member Full registration (week) $395 available for purchase from 1 March to 31 March 2018.  The next day, 1 April, no weekly registrations will be available for purchase until the conference starts on 7 April.

Non-member Full registration (week) $455 available for purchase from 1 March to 31 March 2018.  The next day, 1 April, no weekly registrations will be available for purchase until the conference starts on 7 April.

Member On-site registration (week) $500 starting 7 April & ending 12 April.

Non-member On-site registration (week) $550 starting 7 April & ending 12 April.

Daily Registration Pricing:

Daily registrations are for any day during the week of 8-12 April.  The icebreaker on the evening of the 7th and the banquet on the evening of the 12th are extra- see a la carte.

Member Daily Early registration $95 available until 28 February.  The next day, 1 March, the price increases.

Non-member Daily Early registration $110 available until 28 February.  The next day, 1 March, the price increases.

Member Daily Full registration $110 available from 1 March to 6 April.

Non-member Daily Full registration $125 available from 1 March to 6 April.

Onsite Daily Registration (member & non-member) $125 available for purchase from 7-12 April 2018.

A La Carte Pricing:

Pre-conference trip to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium- $50 (cap at 55 people) on Saturday 6 April.  Available for purchase until 31 March (or until 55 people have registered).  As we return from Tacoma, we will stop at the Odd Otter Brewery.

Icebreaker $40 on Sunday 7 April at the Oregon Zoo.

Silent Auction $40 on Tuesday 9 April at the Benson Hotel.  (1 admission is included in Tuesday’s daily registration but you can purchase more tickets if you would like someone to attend with you.)

Poster Night $40 on Thursday 11 April at the Oregon Zoo.  (1 admission is included in Thursday’s daily registration but you can purchase more tickets if you would like someone to attend with you.)

Banquet $75 on Friday 12 April at the Benson Hotel.  (This is not included with Friday’s daily registration.)

Contact us if you have any questions.

100% until 30 days before the start of the conference
50% from 29 days until 8 days before the conference
No refunds starting the week before the conference


We will again be offering CEU’s for a variety of organizations.  Once the program is finalized we will submit for credits and post here.  We normally offer CEU’s for the following organizations:

We look forward to seeing you in Portland!


The conference hotel is the Benson.  The hotel rate is $189/night.

AMENITIES: Details coming soon.

PARKING: $40/night.

ROOMMATES: Need a roommate?  We can help! Please submit the following information to our roommate coordinator, Nicole Nicassio:

  1. Your gender
  2. Roommate gender preference
  3. How many roommates you would like to have
  4. How many days you need a roommate

DINING:  Do you have dietary restrictions?  The hotel will be happy to accommodate you! Please inform them upon reserving your room and upon check-in of your dietary needs.  Don’t forget to let the ABMA know of your dietary restrictions during the online registration process.  


Hotel Location:  The conference hotel is the Benson located at 309 SW Broadway, Portland, OR 97205

Our annual conference would not be possible without the support of our sponsors. Thank you!  If you would like more information on how to become a sponsor, please contact us!  We also have vendor opportunities available for $50/table.

Site Visits
We will be visiting 3 facilities during the conference.  Tuesday, 9 April we will visit the Primate Research Center and Guide Dogs For The Blind.  Thursday, 11 April we will visit the Oregon Zoo.   

Badge Entries
Your ABMA conference committee is working on badge entries that will allow you access to nearby attractions.

There are many questions you may have about traveling to Portland and Oregon.  Please contact us to submit questions we haven’t thought of!  We’ll be posting more information soon

WEATHER:  details coming soon

INTERNATIONAL ATTENDEES:  The legal drinking age in Oregon is 21 years.  The electrical outlets in the US are 110V.  You will need an adapter for your electronic devices as well as a power converter.  The US will gladly accept all major credit cards such as Visa, Mastercard, Discover, and American Express.  You may be charged an international usage fee, so check with your financial institution.  What about tipping?  Tipping is an often debated topic depending on the services used, but this reference will give you a good idea as to general numbers people often use when traveling in the US:  http://www.traveller.com.au/a-guide-to-tipping-in-the-us-when-do-i-tip-and-how-much-39x1t 


We are pleased to announce that Kate Webb from APOPO will be our keynote speaker!  Kate has worked with a vast array of animals; from the inconspicuous earthworm to the life-saving African giant pouched rat (so called “HeroRATs”). Before obtaining her bachelor’s degree in psychology and neuroscience from Albion College in Michigan, Kate worked in veterinarian clinics, managed horse farms, and taught horseback riding lessons at ranches in Michigan and Wyoming. Kate worked at Duke University before moving to Tanzania to join APOPO’s Research and Development team. Kate was a lead investigator on several studies, including a project that explored alternative training paradigms. As part of the project, she developed a Rapid Retraining procedure that enables the pouched rats to rapidly learn multiple odor targets. Kate then applied this training procedure to APOPO’s ongoing proof-of-concept examining if the HeroRATs can detect illegally trafficked wildlife products. The detection of wildlife products would be a novel humanitarian application for APOPO’s rats and represents a unique overlap between animal training and conservation. Currently, Kate is based in Milwaukee where she is continuing her work as a consulting researcher with APOPO while pursuing a Ph.D in Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

APOPO is a global non-profit organization with Belgian roots that trains African giant pouched rats (Cricetomys ansorgei) to save lives. APOPO’s training and research center is located in affiliation with the Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, where the rats are trained to sniff out dangerous substances such as landmines and tuberculosis.

Today, over 60 countries remain contaminated with explosive remnants of war, including hidden landmines, that cause tragic accidents and hamper community development of land. Meanwhile, slow and inaccurate detection methods make tuberculosis (TB) the world’s deadliest infectious disease, surpassing even HIV/AIDs. Globally, 10 million people contract TB every year, with 3.6 million undiagnosed or unreported, and 1.6 million dying from the disease. APOPO’s scent detection rats, affectionately dubbed ‘HeroRATs’, help rid the world of landmines and TB by returning safe land back to communities and freeing people from serious illness so they can get back on their feet. To date, the HeroRATs have performed their lifesaving work in Angola, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Mozambique. In addition to landmine- and TB-detection, the HeroRATs’ incredible sense of smell has the potential to help solve other social challenges such as detection of food contaminants, illegal trafficking of wildlife or contraband, and even search and rescue following natural disasters. APOPO is committed to animal welfare and empirical research aimed at gaining a better understanding of the rats’ behavior, optimizing training procedures to improve their speed and accuracy, and adapting their work to different settings and applications. To learn more or get involved, visit www.apopo.org.


Ken Ramirez is the Executive Vice-President and Chief Training Officer of Karen Pryor Clicker Training where he oversees the vision, development and implementation of training education programs for the organization, including ClickerExpo, Karen Pryor Academy, and The Ranch. This allows Ken to help bring positive reinforcement training to all corners of the animal training world.

Previously, Ken served as the Executive Vice-President of animal care and animal training at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, where he developed and supervised animal care and animal health programs, staff training and development as well as public presentation programs for a collection of more than 32,000 animals. He worked at Shedd Aquarium for over 25 years.

A 40+ year veteran of animal care and training, Ramirez is a biologist and animal behaviorist who served nine years at Marineworld of Texas. He also was a trainer and coordinator at Ocean Safari in South Padre Island, Texas, as well as acting as a consultant to many zoo and aquarium programs throughout the world. He began his training career working with guide dogs for the visually impaired and has maintained a close affiliation to pet training throughout his career. He hosted two successful seasons of the pet training television series Talk to the Animals that compared pet training to the important work done with training and caring for animals in zoological facilities. He also works closely with several search and rescue dog organizations, service dog groups, as well as with bomb and narcotic dogs.

Since 2005, Ken has brought his experience as a trainer of many cognitive projects with marine mammals and primates to the dog arena. Most notable has been his work with modifier cues, adduction, matching to sample, mimicry, and counting. The latter two projects: teaching dogs to mimic or imitate other dogs; and to learn the concept of counting are in the process of being prepared for scientific publication. Both of these projects have documented cognitive abilities in dogs that have not been previously well reported or understood.

Ken has also pioneered groundbreaking conservation training projects with chimpanzees, polar bears, elephants, butterflies and other animals. Conservation training applies behavior science in the field with free-ranging animals and uses remote training to facilitate learning to assist wild life biologists in a wide range of projects.

Ramirez has been active in several professional organizations, including the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), of which he is a past president. Ken has been actively involved in the creation of a certification process for animal trainers in zoological settings.

Ramirez has written for numerous scientific publications and authored countless popular articles. He authored the book ANIMAL TRAINING: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement, published in 1999 and Better Together: The Collected Wisdom of Modern Dog Trainers, published in 2017. Ken taught a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University for 20 years and currently offers several on-line courses through the Karen Pryor Academy. In 2017 Ken moved to Washington state where he created a series of immersive hands-on training courses at The Ranch, the Karen Pryor National Training Center.

General 2019 conference program:

Saturday, 6  April- pre-conference trip to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, WA

Sunday, 7 April- conference registration check-in, icebreaker at the Oregon Zoo (food provided).

Monday, 8 April- presentations, professional development night.  Breakfast, lunch, dinner on your own.

Tuesday, 9 April- site visits to Primate Research Center & Guide Dogs For The Blind, silent auction at Benson hotel.  Breakfast & lunch on your own.

Wednesday, 10 April- presentations, Research & Evaluation Workshop, committee meetings.  Breakfast, lunch & dinner on your own.

Thursday, 11 April- Zoo day & poster night.  Breakfast & lunch provided; dinner on your own.

Friday, 12 April- presentations, banquet.  Breakfast & lunch on your own; dinner provided (banquet).

To be green, the ABMA does not hand out printed programs. The program for the 2019 conference will be posted starting in March 2019.  Download the 2018 conference program.  We also have an interactive app with the program and other exciting features available in the app store (i phone) or Google Play (android).   Search for “ABMA Conference”.  If you have the app from a previous conference you need to delete the app and upload the new 2018 app. 

Details will be posted as they are finalized. If you have questions, don't hesitate to contact us. We look forward to seeing you in Portland!