"A better future for wildlife through excellence in behavior management"
The Oregon Zoo is hosting.
The Benson Hotel is the conference hotel. You can book online or by calling the hotel. If you have any problems with booking a double bed room, please contact the hotel at 800-716-6199. BOOK HERE.
The conservation animal for the 2019 Conference is the Bee! You can buy some bee apparel from Animals Anonymous here or pick some up at the conference. This year the ABMA is proudly supporting The Xerces Society Thank you for supporting bee conservation!
Upload your conference photos here! **By uploading your photo you agree to the ABMA photograph general disclaimer: The undersigned (the "Photographer") hereby irrevocably grants to the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (the “ABMA") full and complete permission to use the photos submitted in any ABMA publication, including, but not limited to, use and display on newsletters, illustrations, advertisements, and internet content. With the exception of the foregoing, ABMA makes no claims to ownership of the submitted photographs and ownership rights are retained by the Photographer.
Quick Links for Conference Information
Congratulations to Dr. Cathy Mingee from Busch Gardens, Tampa and Brandi Taylor from Denver Zoo for their paper “Evaluating Training: What we learned and where we are going”. Dr. Mingee will be presenting the paper at the ABMA Conference in Portland.
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 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.
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 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 email@example.com or the 2019 Vice President, Kelly Elkins at firstname.lastname@example.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
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
CONTINUING EDUCATION CREDITS (CEU’s):
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:
CCPDT- 25.5 for trainers, 7.5 for behavior consultants
NAI- per hour attended, see Antonio Ramirez for “attendance certificate”
We look forward to seeing you in Portland!
The conference hotel is the Benson.
AMENITIES: Details coming soon.
ROOMMATES: Need a roommate? We can help! Please submit the following information to our roommate coordinator, Nicole Nicassio:
- Your gender
- Roommate gender preference
- How many roommates you would like to have
- 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.
From the Portland airport you can take a shuttle, taxi, Uber/Lyft, or the MAX (the light rail). The MAX will be the cheapest option $2.50!
MAX directions from airport: Take the Red Line (City Center & Beaverton) and exit at Pioneer Square North. Walk .2 miles North to The Benson Hotel, which is 2 blocks. This is a 45 minute ride.
MAX directions from hotel: Walk .2 miles South to Pioneer Square North and take the Red Line (Airport) to Portland Airport. This is a 45 minute ride.
|Many thanks for the generous contributions from:
Cheryl Wilkerson, Kathy Bartholemy, Gretchen
Culp, & the Oregon Zoo Sewing Team!
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.
Steve Martin is President/CEO of Natural Encounters, Inc. (NEI), a company of over 45 professional trainers who produce and present educational animal programs at zoological facilities in the US and internationally. He has served as an animal behavior and visitor experience consultant for over 100 zoological facilities around the world. Steve is an instructor at the AZA Animal Training School, a member of the AZA Welfare Committee and AZA Behavior Advisory Group. He is also a Trustee with the World Parrot Trust, Board Member of the International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators, and President of Natural Encounters Conservation Fund, Inc. a company dedicated to raising money for in situ conservation programs. Steve Martin has a strong commitment to conservation and helping people understand their relationship with the living earth. The Mission Statement of NEI is “Connecting Humans With The Natural World” and Earth Day is an official holiday for all NEI employees.
Nicki Boyd is the Associate Curator of Behavioral Husbandry at the San Diego Zoo. Her educational background includes graduating from Moorpark College’s Exotic Animal Training and Management Program, Mesa College’s Animal Health Technician Program, with an Associate in Science Degree, and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has worked at the San Diego Zoo for 27 years in various departments and roles such as zookeeper, team area lead, Animal Care Supervisor, Animal Care Manager and is currently Associate Curator of Behavioral Husbandry. Her role as Associate is to set up training programs all over the San Diego Zoo. Nicki is also in charge of Animal Connections Division at the zoo, which includes all four of the animal ambassador teams. She has held board positions for ABMA such as CFO for 8 years and president and is currently the Chief Information Officer. She a founding board member and past president of the Red Panda Network. She is on the board of directors for the International Avian Certification Board, International Animal Training Certification Board and is a certified animal and bird trainer knowledge assessed (CPAT-KA, CPBT-KA) She is on the steering committee for AZA’s red panda master planning, AZA’s Behavior Advisory Group and AZA’s Animal Ambassador Species Advisory Group (AASAG).
Ellen Dreyer is the Animal Behavior and Wellness Coordinator at Brevard Zoo in Melbourne, FL. She’s worked with all different taxa and extensively with birds and animal ambassadors. After earning a degree in animal science from Clemson University, she began working in the zoo’s Austral/Asia area first as a keeper and then as a supervisor, focusing on starting a training program aimed at allowing animals the ability to participate in their care. In her current role, she manages the zoo’s animal training and enrichment programs which gives her the opportunity to partner with different teams to tackle a wide variety of behavior challenges. Ellen received her AZA Professional Development Certificate in Behavioral Husbandry which denotes over 100 hours of specialized training and she is currently a member of AZA’s Behavior Scientific Advisory Group. She has had several articles published on animal training and presented at past ABMA, AAZK, and AZA conferences. Her favorite part of the job is teaching the science of behavior change to new keepers!
Barbara Heidenreich has been a professional in the field of animal training since 1990. She provides consulting services to zoos, nature centers, conservation projects and other animal facilities. She is an adjunct instructor at Texas A & M University, Veterinary Medicine and Biological Sciences. In her career she has trained animals, trained staff, lectured and/or presented shows at over 80 animal facilities around the world. Barbara is passionate about teaching excellent animal training practical application skills. Barbara is thrilled to have had the opportunity to train thousands of animals, from rabbits to rhinos. This hands-on practice with so many different individual animals has been invaluable to helping her provide caregivers the tools they need to solve behavior problems and have a great relationship with the animals in their lives based on trust. Her goal is to leave behind a legacy of kindness to animals by sharing her expertise. Visit www.AnimalTrainingFundamentals.com or www.BarbarasFFAT.com for more information.
Dr. Nadja Wielebnowski is the current Manager of Conservation and Research at Oregon Zoo and she also holds an affiliate appointment at Portland State University. Her research focuses on the behavioral endocrinology of animal stress and its implications for animal conservation and animal well‐being. Nadja is the past chair (2009‐2014) of the AZA (American Zoo and Aquarium Association) Animal Welfare Committee and previously held the position of Vice President of Conservation Science at the Chicago Zoological Society where she helped to establish a Center for zoo animal welfare science and worked on the development of welfare monitoring tools such as WelfareTrak®. Nadja is also a research associate and former post‐doctoral fellow at the Smithsonian’s Conservation Biology Institute (SCBI), Front Royal, Virginia. She received her Ph.D. in Ecology as a Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Davis (1996), an M.S. in Zoology (1989) and a B.S. in Biology from the University of Vienna, Austria and has produced over 50 peer‐reviewed publications in the areas of wildlife endocrinology, animal behavior, ecology, conservation, and animal welfare.
Dr. David Shepherdson is Deputy Conservation and Research Manager at the Oregon Zoo and holds an affiliate appointment at Portland State University. His research has focused on zoo animal welfare and in particular environmental enrichment. David co‐chaired the very first conference on environmental enrichment in 1993. The edited volume “Second Nature: Environmental Enrichment for Zoo Animals” resulted from this conference which has grown into a bi‐annual world‐wide event under the title; International Conference on Environmental Enrichment (ICEE). David has worked with a wide range of species from elephants to Polar Bears and Giant Pandas and has produced over 50 peer‐reviewed papers and book chapters. In addition to animal welfare research David also works on regional conservation initiatives. David received his Ph.D. in Animal Behavior at the University of Sussex, UK in 1987 which was followed by a stint at the Zoological Society of London before coming to the Oregon Zoo in 1991.
To be green, the ABMA does not hand out printed programs. Download the pdf 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 2019 app.
Saturday, 6 April– pre-conference trip to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma, WA
Leave hotel at 8:00am, PDZA 11:00am-2:30pm, Odd Otter Brewery 3:00pm-4:00pm, Return to hotel by 7:00pm.
Sunday, 7 April– Conference registration check-in 1:00pm-5:00pm in the upper lobby (balcony). Take the MAX to the Icebreaker at the Oregon Zoo 6:00pm-10:00pm (food provided).
Monday, 8 April– Breakfast, lunch & dinner on your own today.
7:00-8:00am- Registration/ Check-in
8:30-9:30am- Keynote Speaker
9:40-10:00am- Working Together Through Training to Improve Animal Welfare For Orangutans in Borneo by Colleen Reed and Cydney Sines, Oregon Zoo
What happens when operant conditioning becomes more than just an element of your work, and instead could help save lives in the wild and in sanctuaries? The Oregon Zoo teamed up with the Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation to do just that. Primate keepers Colleen Reed and Cydney Sines joined training and behavior consultant, Barbara Heidenreich, in the Bornean rainforest to better the lives of orangutans through positive reinforcement training. The team worked with a range of ages, from unreleasable adult orangutans to younger animals who may one day be released back to the forest. Their work included body presentation, target training, wound treatment, nail treatment, injection training, separation training, decreased aggression, reducing fear response, and physical therapy. The program was a challenge, but both the trainers and the trainees achieved measurable benefit and a lasting impact. Now, armed with the experience and knowledge of what is required to succeed, the team is planning to expand this collaboration with involvement and support from other facilities. They need your assistance to have a lasting impact on the individuals being cared for in sanctuary, as well as help to ensure the future of the species in the wild.
10:00-10:20 Back To Basics Isn’t Basic by Peter Giljam, Kolmårdens Wildlife Park
Kolmårdens Wildlife Park is established in 1965, the Zoo became quickly the largest zoo within the Nordic countries. The Zoo has over 600 individuals and is 300+ acres big. In 2014 the zoo started to look at their ways how we handle the animals, it wasn’t until 2015 that we started to change the animal handling throughout the whole zoo. A Zookeeper’s day consist of many different tasks. Many of the teams have a challenging animal/ keeper ratio. This is the moment where keepers come with reasonings why they are not able to train their animals. At Kolmårdens Wildlife Park we try to help the keepers to discover how we can overcome those challenges such as what can we do so we are able to train the animals and help the daily tasks for the keepers. We gave a lot of time back since we have developed our training program, the important part we have focused on as first steps is the basics of husbandry. How can we get animals to come quicker, how can we reach them individually for a training session, how do we separate animals when we don’t have so many keepers? All questions we try to tackle in our training program here at the zoo, so far with a lot of success. Back to basic isn’t always that easy. There are a lot of ingredients that has to be placed into a program to make it work.
11:10-11:30am- On the Rebound: Rebuilding a Trust Account With a Brush-tail Rock Wallaby by Jade Fountain, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve
Ambassador animals can be an important face of a species, particularly for animals that are shy, elusive and rarely seen in the wild, but also allow delivery of key conservation messages to visitors, students and the media. Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve has been an integral centre for breeding and release of brush-tail rock wallabies over the past 20 years.
Shadow, an orphan brush-tail rock wallaby joey thrown from his mum’s pouch, was hand raised by wildlife officers. Our goal was for him to meet people during animal encounters, with an aim to provide a unique and educational opportunity to see rock wallabies up close. The team encountered challenges when Shadow started biting staff, and showing anxiety-related aggression. After conducting functional assessments, we created an operant training plan focused on positive reinforcement, reinforcement of incompatible behaviours and set up his environment to promote desirable behaviours. The training program included voluntary injections, stationing and building cooperative relationships, ultimately improving our ability to care for him. As a result of the team’s dedication to the plan, Shadow has been a huge success for the endangered species program at Tidbinbilla and the face of the brush-tail rock wallaby recovery program. He has contributed to knowledge of the species and has inspired stake-holders and important ministers who make key environmental protection decisions. Through improving a relationship with behaviour management, for well-being check-ups and animal encounters, we can not only change the world for a single animal in care, but change the future for a species.
11:30-11:50am- Transitioning Research Beagles into Retirement Utilizing a Positive Reinforcement Training Program by Heidi Moomaw and Rachel Beall, Charles River Labs
At Charles River, we are committed to ensuring all animals have the highest level of care and welfare. A canine adoption program was developed to satisfy our desire to retire the research beagles. After receiving feedback from previous adopters, we saw a need to provide the beagles with skills to help transition them into their new life. The training program focused on the following areas: harness and leash, basic manners, new locations and experiences, novel floor textures and novel sounds. The dog training area included a functioning bathroom, an office area, and garage doors. In addition, items were procured to facilitate training, such as fake grass, a carpet square, harnesses, leashes, a TV and a radio. The training program was managed by 2 technicians that performed daily 20-minute sessions for each dog which occurred up to 4 times a week. Training records were utilized to track the progress of each dog and to aid in communication between technicians. The 20 dogs involved in the program exhibited a large range in confidence levels at the start of the program; however, every dog left the facility with the skills necessary to easily transition into retirement. Success of the program was measured by positive feedback from adopters which led to a waiting list of staff who were interested in adopting one of our beagles. It has been a beneficial program not only for the dogs but also for technicians that were given the opportunity to work directly with our animals.
11:50-12:10pm- The Evolution of a Progressive, Asian Bull Elephant Management Program by Maura Davis, Denver Zoo
The bull management program at Denver Zoo has been ever evolving since it began in 2011 with the most significant changes beginning in the fall of 2016. The Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit, which opened in 2012, was intentionally designed to house bull elephants but as our goals changed and became more progressive, we have used our facility in different ways. Socialization of the bulls became a new focus as well as redesigning the training program to be one with choice and control on behalf of the elephants. With developing a new goal-oriented program and putting our staffs team health as a priority, we successfully integrated our male herd, increased our standards in behavior management, began a research program and are now invested in a conservation initiative in Nepal. As our herd size increases, we look towards more innovations and continue to push the standards for bull elephant management in human care.
12:20-1:40pm- Lunch on your own
1:40-2:00pm- Incredible Ibis by Karena Marrero, San Diego Zoo Safari Park
When visiting a bird show, ibis are a species that are not often represented. Here at the Safari Park, we are lucky enough to work with two different species in our collection. We have scarlet ibis and sacred ibis flying three different natural behaviors in our show. In addition, our ibis are trained for personal interactions with guests and for a multitude of voluntary medical procedures. Our goal for this paper is to show how adaptable ibis can be to husbandry training, show behaviors and helping encourage our guests to conserve different species of animals.
2:00-2:20pm- Training the Trainers: Getting More People Involved in Behavior Management by Jennifer Diaz, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
We all agree that the lives of animals in every situation from zoos to shelters, from backyards to to the front range can be greatly improved and enriched through behavioral management. The only question becomes how? You are only one person. How many animals lives can you possibly impact? There are hundreds of amazing animals trainers in the world, but if we can multiply that number by thousands, we can reach an exponential number of animals lives. Again, how? If it were easy, everyone would already be a professional at behavioral modification. How do pro athletes become pros? Lots and lots of practice with someone more experienced coaching them along the way. Anyone of any age can learn. In the Edventure department at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo we try to get everyone involved. Teen program participants train snakes and salamanders, 8 year old guests help shift animals, docents create positive associations with lizards being touched, and so much more. I will go over some techniques and tips from our area that have helped us send out over 100 humans into the world with a better understanding and passion for training.
2:20-2:40pm- Quality of Life Assessment: Using Data to Help Make the End-of-Life Care Decision in a Macaque by Lindsay Simpson, Julie Grove, Maryland Zoo and Elizabeth S. Herrelko, Smithsonian’s National Zoo & University of Stirling, Scotland
Assessing quality of life in geriatric zoo animals is an art as much as it is a science. Despite the use of questionnaires and keeper reports, which consider several aspects of overall well-being, the process often remains subjective. Keepers have unique insights, and their anecdotal observations can be enhanced with objective data to support animal care decisions. At The Maryland Zoo, we combined the art and science of assessments with a long-term study on geriatric macaques (1.1 lion tail; 1.0 lion tail/pig tail hybrid). Historic data proved especially helpful when the hybrid macaque became singly housed following the unexpected death of his cage mate in the spring of 2018. Animal care staff identified a significant decrease in activity level, lower engagement with keepers during and outside of observations periods, and concerning behaviors that had not previously been observed, including resting with head down. While the zoo worked to identify new social opportunities, our team used the data to develop a plan of targeted changes to improve his quality of life (e.g., increase in training sessions, enrichment, and social interactions). After five weeks of intense implementation we saw a significant increase in activity level and engagement with keepers; the frequency of resting with head down, however, increased over time. Despite the team’s best efforts, activity levels and keeper interaction never reached initial baseline levels. Our data allowed us to objectively compare changes in behavior, enabling the zoo to make the most informed animal management decision possible.
2:40-3:00pm- Creating a Positive Reinforcement Training Program for Former Dancing Bears in India by MaryElizabeth “M.E.” Hampton, Little Rock Zoo
In 2018 I made two trips to India to work with Wildlife SOS (WSOS). My experience began as a representative of Little Rock Zoo on a Bear TAG sponsored trip and grew into a partnership to facilitate positive reinforcement training with former dancing bears. Dancing bears are sloth bears that were used by the Kalandar people in a cruel practice involving poaching a young cub, killing its mother, breaking the cub’s canine teeth and driving a hot poker through their nasal cartilage so a rope can be threaded through to control them. They were then made to “dance” for tourists. Thanks to WSOS the practice of dancing bears no longer exists in India. WSOS rescued over 600 dancing bears and now houses them in four facilities throughout the country. I helped form a positive reinforcement program at two of those facilities: Agra Bear Rescue Facility and Bannerghatta Bear Rescue Center. The introduction of positive reinforcement training has greatly increased the welfare of these formerly abused bears. The training has improved the relationship between the keepers and the bears, as well as decreasing overall anxiety as demonstrated by decreases in den-shy behavior, decreases in stereotypic behavior and increases in both attention and participation. Positive reinforcement training is new to India. Being invited back to train Indian staff by WSOS demonstrates their commitment to improve the lives of these bears and we at Little Rock Zoo are offering continued support to improve animal welfare around the world.
3:30-3:40pm- John Kirtland Lifetime Achievement Award Announcement
3:40-4:40- The Future of Zoos Through the Eyes of a Dreamer by Steve Martin, Natural Encounters, Inc.
Walt Disney said, “First Think, second, Believe, third, Dream, and finally, Dare.” Dreaming is what made Walt Disney so successful, and I believe what helps shape zoological facilities of the future. Dreams have inspired me toward many goals, some achieved but many still fixed in my imagination waiting for the right condition to take flight.
I imagine the zoological facility of the future will flourish in a safe zone where daring to act on dreams is supported and nurtured, and minor mistakes are seen as opportunities to start again with more information rather than punished through peer pressure or criticism. In future zoos, all animal care professionals will have a clear understanding of the science of behavior change and be able to apply these principals at extraordinary levels with every animal at the facility instead of just the animals in their section. Through this exemplary training, animals experience optimal welfare, and desirable behaviors will replace problem behaviors. I see animals in environments rich with behavioral opportunities, empowered with control, and motivated to use their senses and adaptation to “earn” a living, much like their wild counterparts. When animals do what nature built them to do, their behavior will convey inspirational stories that inspire caring and conservation action in guest to our facilities. These are a few of the dreams I will share along with strategies for how to move them toward reality in this presentation.
4:40-5:40pm- Talking Training with Ellen Dreyer, Brevard Zoo, Nicki Boyd, San Diego Zoo, and Steve Martin, Natural Encounters, Inc
Trainer and training evaluations are a necessary part of capacity building with any animal program. There is often resistance, fear, and aversion of being evaluated. This workshop will highlight some of the formats, successes and strategies to encourage capacity building in a safe and nurturing environment. Animal care professionals should always be learning and part of that is understanding the science of training. The application of operant conditioning has greatly improved the welfare, animal care and guest experience. Being able to give and receive constructive feedback is crucial to that learning and application process. This workshop will be hosted by several members of the Behavior Advisory Group (BAG) from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and will have interactive video for trainers to evaluate. There will be various options of evaluation forms to take back to their facility and use in their own programs, and live demo role-play with tactful constructive feedback and of course lots of positive reinforcement. Evaluators will be taught some of the science to go along with the feedback so that correct assessments can be given. Examples of training and interpretation to the guests will be another part of this workshop, telling our story and the great welfare advancements with are accomplishing with operant conditioning should be shared. Training animals is so much fun and talking training should be too.
5:40pm- Dinner on your own
7:00-9:00pm- Professional Development Night
Tuesday, 9 April– Breakfast & lunch on your own today.
8:00-8:30- Buses leave for site visits
08:30-11:30am- Primate Research Center site visit
12:00-1:00pm- Lunch on your own
12:30-1:00pm- Bus loading
1:00-5:00pm- Guide Dogs For The Blind site visit
4:30-5:00pm- Bus loading and return to Benson Hotel
7:00-10:00- Silent auction at Benson hotel with heavy hors d’oeuvres.
Wednesday, 10 April– Breakfast, lunch & dinner on your own.
8:00-9:30- Working with Animal Groups by Ken Ramirez, Karen Pryor Clicker Training
When we learn to train, we usually learn by working with a single animal. However, in the zoological world, we rarely work with one animal at a time. Making training decisions is less clear when there are two or more animals in front of the trainer. This presentation will focus on key techniques helpful in working with multiple animals.
9:30-9:50am- How Changing from Stockmanship to Positive Reinforcement With One Steer Led to Multiple Positive Program Changes and Staff Skill Development by Elise Dubuisson, Debbie Marin, and Amy Phelps, San Francisco Zoo
Traditional handling practices for domestic livestock often involve the use of chutes, penning systems, hand restraint, and positive punishment. While these methods can achieve results, these practices may result in animals displaying fear or aggression towards their caretakers, which compromises animal welfare and staff safety. The San Francisco Zoo’s Children’s Zoo is home to a 1,000 pound steer, which was historically aggressive towards staff when walking between yards. The steer was originally managed using a halter with a chin chain that remained on him at all times. Through the use of positive reinforcement techniques, staff trained a haltering behavior to put on and take off the halter daily, and then transitioned to a chain free halter. We trained the steer to walk voluntarily on lead so he could be safely moved between exhibit areas. Establishing a solid behavior foundation allowed us to train more advanced and invasive medical husbandry behaviors, such as injections and hoof care. This was accomplished in protected contact, without the use of physical restraint or positive punishment. The steer has developed positive relationships with staff, and more readily interacts with enrichment. The primary trainers for this animal were one experienced trainer who mentored a novice trainer. Through the development of this training program both the novice trainer and animal were able to develop their skill sets together. This process supported the improved welfare of the steer, advanced staff professional development, and laid a foundation for advancing behavioral management programs throughout the Children’s Zoo.
9:50-10:10am- Polar Bear Conservation Training At The Oregon Zoo..Let’s Dive In! by A. Hash, A. Cutting, N. Nicassio-Hiskey, S. Morgan, R. Draughon, and J. DeGroot, Oregon Zoo
In 2008, the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) was classified as a threatened species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Zoos now have an opportunity to use cooperative training to collaborate with researchers, and better understand the challenges that polar bears may face in the warming Arctic. After a successful voluntary blood draw from 1.1 polar bears at the Oregon Zoo in 2012, a researcher from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) invited us to participate in a nutritional ecology project. This collaboration developed into an ongoing energetics research project with the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) and USGS. This research included training a 0.1 polar bear to wear a satellite collar and walk on a treadmill in order to obtain the energetic cost of resting and walking on land. The next phase of this three series project involved training the bear to swim and rest inside of a metabolic swim chamber to determine the energetic cost of aquatic locomotion. The researcher was able to compare the energetic costs of swimming to the resting and walking costs of polar bears and other species of semiaquatic marine mammals. Climate scientists predict with the decline of Arctic sea ice, polar bears will be forced to swim longer distances to reach stable platforms for denning and catching prey. Continued research examining metabolic costs of polar bears is needed, with zoo partnerships, and the Oregon Zoo is committed to supporting these conservation efforts.
10:10-10:30am- Induction Chamber Training with a Two-toed Linnaeus’s Sloth (Choloepus didactylus) by Lauren Attaway and Lauren Wilson, Texas State Aquarium
In January of 2018 the Texas State Aquarium acquired a juvenile male Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth (Choloepus didactylus) named Chico. In order to conduct the necessary physical evaluation associated with quarantine procedure, Chico would have to be anesthetized. Physically restraining a sloth poses risks both to the staff and to the sloth itself in the form of physical injury and undue stress. In order to reduce these risks, the staff decided to train Chico to voluntarily enter an induction chamber. Using positive reinforcement and operant conditioning techniques, the staff was able to train Chico to climb into a modified Tupperware container where anesthetic gas would be introduced. Not only did this behavior allow the staff to perform the physical evaluation necessary to clear Chico from quarantine, Chico now frequently participates in his own health care. Having the choice and control over when he enters the induction chamber has improved his welfare at the Texas State Aquarium.
11:00-11:50am- Research and Evaluation Workshop by Dr. Nadja Wielebnowski and Dr. David Shepherdson, Oregon Zoo
Zoo animal welfare science and animal welfare assessment/monitoring has been a growing area of research and an increasingly recognized need in accredited zoos and aquariums worldwide. Indeed various accreditation bodies (e.g., ZAA, WAZA, AZA) are now asking for institutional welfare programs and animal based assessment practices. Here we will discuss resource based versus animal based assessments, inputs versus outputs for welfare assessments and monitoring, monitoring tools and key elements of individual based welfare monitoring and research. Physical and physiological monitoring will be discussed and specific examples presented including keeper assessments of individual animal welfare. Behavior is a key welfare measurement variable and we will discuss and demonstrate tools and techniques for assessment Environmental enrichment is a key component of welfare for zoo animals and we will discuss basic concepts including the importance of choice, control and challenge.
12:00-1:00pm- Lunch on your own
1:00-1:50pm- Research and Evaluation Workshop by Dr. Nadja Wielebnowski and Dr. David Shepherdson, Oregon Zoo
1:50-2:10pm- Creating a Behavioral Husnadry Program – Desert Style by Christine Montgomery, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
In early 2018 The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens in Palm Desert, Calif. added a behavioral husbandry curator to our staff of 35 curators and keepers to assist with the training, enrichment and welfare of over 400 desert dwelling species. Since then, the zoo has been a hotbed of behavioral growth. The enrichment program was heated up through streamlining of the approval process, organizing inventory, creating a master website of approved items, creating team contests and focus months. The sands then shifted on the training program. Medical, husbandry and guest-focused behaviors had a fire lit under them under the watchful eye and guidance of the behavioral husbandry team. With the addition of the AZA welfare standard 5.1.0, a formal welfare assessment program was introduced, and sent through the accreditation process in early 2019. Diets were also evaluated, elevated, and the approval process was simplified. To say the behavioral husbandry process has been heated up is an understatement – we are at 100 degrees and we keep getting hotter! This presentation will show how the program has grown from its infancy and the innovations it has received along the way.
2:10-2:30pm- Training for Euthanasia by Barbara Heidenreich, Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training
Many behaviors we train result in improved animal welfare throughout the life of the animal. However, training for end of life is a conversation that is relatively new. Euthanasia is often emotionally challenging for animal caregivers. Even more difficult is to watch an animal experience stress in its final moments after a lifetime of training to otherwise cooperate. This can be addressed by including training for euthanasia in the behavioral repertoire. Even if an animal is trained for injections, there are many details to consider to facilitate voluntary cooperation and high standards in welfare once the decision to euthanize has been made. These details include methods of euthanasia, choosing and preparing the location, reactions to sedatives, addressing declining condition and more. Knowing what to expect, trainers can adapt shaping plans to minimize or eliminate stress. This presentation will discuss what trainers need to know to enable quality of life, even when passing.
2:30-2:50pm- From Glove to Exhibit: One Hawk’s Flight to the Top by Victoria Karabanova, Leslie Storer, Kameron Thiele, Oakland Zoo
In July 2015 the Oakland Zoo acquired a red-tailed hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) “Ojai” from a raptor rehabilitation facility with the intention of training her to be an ambassador animal for our education department. The training plan was based on positive reinforcement and desensitization techniques as opposed to more forceful, traditional falconry techniques. Ojai presented us with many challenges, causing us to modify the training plan numerous times, including phasing out the glove entirely. We ultimately decided Ojai would not be a suitable ambassador animal for our education department. She would instead move to the zoo’s latest expansion, California Trail, an area that features species currently or once found in California. The training plan then prioritized crate training as well as training her to respond to a lure on the ground, so keepers would be able to recall her in the 18,000 square foot habitat she would share with two California condors (Gymnogyps californianus). Keepers created a training plan for acclimatizing her to the new habitat, the milestones of which she hit faster than expected. Currently, keepers maintain scale, lure, and recall behaviors and have introduced new staff. The future continues to present new challenges and goals: training in the same space as condors, preparing for public demonstrations, and desensitizing her for behind-the-scenes experiences. The journey continues.
3:20-3:40- How Our Zebra Earned Their Stripes by Jenyva Fox, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s staff is passionate about taking animal training to higher levels to improve the lives of animals in our care. This includes forward thinking when it comes to training basic husbandry or veterinary care behaviors. Furthermore, our zoo’s goal of creating defining moments for our guests inspires us as trainers to create opportunities that connect people with our incredible animals. The power of positive reinforcement training with our 2.0 Grants zebra became evident years ago when we actively decided to move away from using negative reinforcement to shift them on and off exhibit. We started by teaching them to come toward us for positive reinforcers. This strategy lead to a more trusting relationship with our zebra, and we have been able to continually build many cooperative behaviors (injections, blood draws, hoof care, voluntary radiographs, etc.) with them since that time. Additionally, relationship building with our zebra has led to exciting opportunities for us to provide our zoo guests with unique and memorable up-close encounters with our zebra. How many people can say that they have scratched a zebra or taken a selfie with a smiling zebra? These experiences connect our guests to our animals and inspire them to conserve wildlife, which is our ultimate goal. This paper will outline the behaviors we trained, how we give them choice and control during all training, including during interactions with guests, and how we got to where we are in creating a better future for wildlife through excellence in behavior management.
3:40-4:00pm- The Husbandry in Healing a Galapagos Tortoise (Chelonoides nigra) after Leg Surgery by Lindsay Glass, Dallas Zoo
Following rear leg surgery in March 2017 due to poor body conformation and an unwillingness to walk, 30 year old Galapagos tortoise (Chelonoides nigra) “#12” spent 15 months in Dallas Zoo’s A.H. Meadows Animal Health Care Facility under the care of hospital keepers. Responsible for daily wound treatments, husbandry, enrichment, and training, hospital keeper staff employed creative solutions to combat recovery challenges. Chief among these solutions were unique methods for encouraging proper mobility, changes of scenery for natural stimulation, stall modifications for a novel indoor experience, and a custom designed physical therapy regimen using operant conditioning in order to get this 250 pound adult prepared to return to habitat. By collaborating with multiple zoo departments, hospital keepers were able to tailor the husbandry to the patient and provide mental stimulation and enhanced quality of life by providing naturalistic opportunities that improved demeanor, increased interactions with his surroundings, and resulted in better wellness overall. By July 2018, the veterinary team was pleased with the wound healing and was confident in #12’s ability to ambulate correctly; he was discharged back to the care of the Reptile staff and returned to exhibit with his 2.4 conspecifics.
4:00-4:20pm BMF Scholarship Winner Presentation- Evaluating Training: What we learned and where we are going by Dr. Cathy Mingee, Busch Gardens Tampa and Brandi Taylor, Denver Zoo
It is widely accepted that positive reinforcement training with intermittent reinforcement is the best method for long term learning and behavioral success. What isn’t widely accepted is what the ‘best’ implementation of intermittent, variable, reinforcement is. That is, what sort of reinforcement will lead to the best behavioral success – primary reinforcement, secondary reinforcement, occasional non-reinforcement or some combination of all of these? Literature on operant conditioning, positive reinforcement and clicker training are all easy to find, but few articles evaluate and discuss the implementation of these methods on learning, long term behavioral success and animal welfare in a data-based model. This study was designed to not only begin exploring these questions, but also allow us to truly evaluate our training program and interactions with our herd of Asian Elephants. The goal of our training program is to use a variable ratio schedule with a variety of reinforcement, but until now, we didn’t have any data to evaluate our program. Through extensive analysis, shared and discussed here, we were able to find out what our reinforcement schedules really look like and how our animals respond. With a better understanding of our training practices, we have been able to improve our comprehension and implementation of the various reinforcement types available to us, understand how each individual animal responds, and thus, advance the care and welfare of our animals.
4:20-4:40pm- Let’s Get Physical: Physical Therapy and Guided Exercise in the Geriatric Health Management in a Herd of Elephants by Laura Price, San Diego Zoo
At the San Diego Zoo, our elephant facility was built to accommodate the unique and special needs that a geriatric herd requires. We take care of four elephants: two Asian (Mary – 55, Devi – 42) and two African (Tembo – 42, Shaba – 38). We use a target pole and work with our elephants using operant conditioning using positive reinforcement in a protected contact setting. As part of their care, we do physical therapy four times a week and exercise walks regularly to meet all of their individual needs. Physical Therapy/exercise is preventative and focused on key muscle and joint movements. It consists of these positions being held 3-5 sec each:
– legs moving front and back
– front legs crossing – left and right
– head down
– trunk up
This is an evolving program that addresses specific elephant needs with advancements in targeted movement to build stamina and endurance. The goal is to increase repetitions and duration of each targeted movement. We also do exercise walks with our elephants whether it is A-B’s with two trainers or a guided walk from 20 min – 1 hr. We do physical therapy and exercise sessions anywhere in the yards, stalls or holding areas. We have transparent components of our program for the public to observe and understand. Physical therapy and exercise are necessary and therapeutic. We do our best to make it positive for our elephants, so that they will want to participate in their own health care.
4:40-5:00pm- Committee Meetings
5:20-6:20pm- Program Council Meeting
6:20pm- Night on the town (dinner on your own)
Thursday, 11 April– Breakfast, lunch, and dinner provided at the zoo.
Download the Zoo map for behind-the-scenes tours, open houses, and exhibit experiences.
8:00-9:00am- MAX to Oregon Zoo
9:00-10:00am- Member Business Meeting (breakfast provided)
10:00-4:00pm- Oregon Zoo site visit (lunch provided)
4:00-7:00pm- Poster night at the zoo
Enriching Ambassador Reptiles by Deidre Ousterhout, Zoo Atlanta
Enrichment is a vital part of zoo animals’ positive welfare. Often reptiles are over-looked or placed on low priority when providing enrichment to a diverse group of animals. The Ambassador Animal team at Zoo Atlanta has been working on new and innovative ways to schedule, administer, and evaluate a behavior based enrichment program for the reptiles in the department. By assessing the natural history of each species, as well as each individual’s needs, Zoo Atlanta created a goal based enrichment program in order to meet the needs of each reptile. This paper will discuss the steps and considerations, put forth towards the goal of successfully enriching all reptiles within the department and will also discuss how keepers evaluated the early stages of the program.
Behavioral Effects of Classical Music on Shelter Dogs by Riha, J. Burk, S., Otterbein University
Animal shelters are often at full capacity nationwide, and canine behavior is a frequent concern for potential dog adopters. The objective of this research was to determine how classical music affects the behaviors of shelter dogs while in the presence of a human. Shelter dogs (n=17) were exposed to two days of classical music from 8 am-3 pm, and two days of no music. Dog behaviors were recorded at 3 pm on the second day of the treatment and control period. First, an evaluator stood silently six feet from the kennel for two minutes. Next, an evaluator stood in front of the kennel for 30 seconds, and then performed scripted interactions with the dog from outside of the kennel for 30 seconds. This was repeated from within the kennel. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were performed to compare behavior frequency, duration, or intensity for the treatment and control periods. During the 2-minute observations, there was a trend for more yawning after music (P=0.071). When the evaluator provided attention in the kennel following music, dogs stood significantly less (P=0.047) and there was a trend for shorter duration of tail wagging (P=0.058) when compared to the control. When the evaluator ignored the dogs from immediately outside of the kennel following music, the dogs displayed less intense tail wagging (P=0.048) and there was a trend of longer play behavior (P=0.075) when compared to the control. Overall, classical music did not appear to have a major impact on canine behavior following a two-day exposure.
Using Behavioral And Physiological Data To Evaluate Animal Welfare In Marine Mammals: A Case Study On Polar Bears And Sea Otters by Nicole Nicassio-Hiskey, Julie Christie, Jen DeGroot, Rob Draughon, Megan Hagedorn, Amy Hash, Renee Larison, Sara Morgan, Christina Parr, Michelle Schireman, Celess Zinda, Amy Cutting, Nadja Wielebnowski, Candace Scarlata, Oregon Zoo
In recent years, zoos and aquariums have increased their efforts to systematically evaluate and improve animal welfare. One tool that can be used for objective assessment of physiological state is the monitoring of adrenal hormones in fecal samples. Since 2015, animal care staff at the Oregon Zoo has been collecting fecal samples from various animals/species for hormone analyses in our on-site endocrinology lab. The lab uses enzymeimmunoassay (EIA) techniques to track reproductive hormones like estrogen, progesterone and their metabolites, as well as adrenal hormones like cortisol, corticosterone and glucocorticoid metabolites. Monitoring glucocorticoid metabolites (GMs) in fecal samples provides a pooled estimate of adrenal hormone production from the previous 7 to 24 hours depending on the species. Temporary increases in GMs can occur in response to negative or positive events and can be used to identify acute stressors and responses to novel stimuli, such as a new enrichment item. Long-term elevations of GMs may indicate the existence of a chronic stressor, such as an on-going health issue. When paired with detailed behavior data, hormone data can be used to evaluate animal welfare, investigate responses to specific events or management decisions as well as facilitate end of life discussions. In this poster, we will discuss several examples in which paired hormone data and behavioral data were used to monitor animal welfare in 1.2 polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and 2.1 southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris).
Equine Salivary Cortisol Concentrations Before and After Grooming and Therapeutic Riding by Adolescents With Autism Spectrum Disorder by Burk, S., Kemeny, E., Gramlich, C., Hutchins, D., Shields, M., Otterbein University
The use of horses in therapeutic riding programs, especially for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), has grown, yet little is known about the impact of grooming and riding on equine stress levels. This study compared equine salivary cortisol concentrations before and after grooming, therapeutic riding, and a control period. Saliva was collected at 4:00 pm and 4:30 pm from 10 horses used in a university therapeutic riding program. Samples were taken on two control days, before and after grooming on two days, and before and after two series of nine therapeutic riding lessons for adolescents with ASD. The samples were analyzed using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to determine cortisol concentrations. The mean change in salivary cortisol concentrations over time for control, grooming, and riding was compared using one-way repeated measures ANOVA. Paired t-tests were used to compare the change over time for individual lessons and controls. No significant differences were found for the change over time during therapeutic riding, grooming, and control. A significant post-riding increase in salivary cortisol concentrations was found during lesson four when compared with controls (P=0.02). This was the first lesson focusing on walk-trot transitions, and the riders’ balance and posture may have affected the horses. No significant increases in salivary cortisol were found during subsequent trot lessons. Overall, the data indicate that therapeutic riding and grooming had no significant effect on equine cortisol levels, suggesting that these human-animal interactions did not compromise the well-being of the horses.
Sexual Maturity Confirmation In Group Housed Female Macaca Fascicularis: A Team Collaboration by Angie Fontenot AA AAS MSL RLATG CMAR, Keely McGrew B.Sc CVT RLATG CMAR, Ashleigh Boyd B.Sc, Charles River
Determining sexual maturity of female macaques requires daily manipulation of the animals to obtain a swab of the vaginal area. Typically, animals are pair-housed in cages equipped with squeeze-backs to facilitate positioning of the animals for this process. The behavior team at our facility offered to utilize portable transport chutes with dividers to start swabbing adult female macaques who were living in group housing areas to assist the veterinary team with the confirmation process without social disruption. Use of the transport chutes in this way required refinements to the transport chutes and to the process, involving a collaborative effort between behaviorists, facilities and veterinary staff. Refinements to the process included making a frame to match the opening sizes of the transport chute and social housing unit, a cable hoist to open and close the chute door from inside the pen, a ratchet strap to secure the transport chute to the housing unit, desensitization of the animals to the process, facilitation of moving the animal’s tails away from the divider slots inside the chute, ordering longer cotton tipped applicators, and rods to secure the dividers close while working animals in the chute. Through communication and these refinements, the behavior team was able to confirm sexual maturity in several females without disrupting social relationships.
7:10-7:30pm- MAX to hotel
Friday, 12 April– Breakfast & lunch on your own; dinner provided (banquet).
8:00-8:20am- Embrace the Bear: Utilizing Seasonality to Encourage Natural Behavior by Jessie McInelly, San Diego Zoo
In a wild, natural environment, animals are exposed to constant change and challenges that encourage a full repertoire of behavior. Some of these behaviors are only seen in response to a specific season or seasonally available resource. In a zoological environment, these periodic shifts are often absent. A multitude of challenges; including infrastructure, a zoo’s climate, and access to resources, can make it difficult for keepers to recreate these opportunities to thrive. The bear team at the San Diego Zoo has investigated and implemented many changes to our standard husbandry practices that allow us to draw out seasonal behaviors by replicating seasonal shifts and activities. This presentation will detail the process of investigating natural, seasonal behaviors and replicating those opportunities for our animals in managed care.
8:20-8:40am- 5 Tools to Building Resiliency in Ambassador Animals by LynnLee Schmidt, Downtown Aquarium- Denver
Chasing that elusive “bomb-proof” ambassador animal? Wishing you had training tools for improving consistency throughout your staff? Trying to figure out what it means to implement choice and control? Our goal is to engage audiences using ambassador animals, while overcoming the many constraints on how to connect the animals to our audience. There are basic problems that affect our ability to be successful (i.e. fear, aggression, and motivation). To counter these obstacles, we use a five tool system to build resiliency, allowing trainers be more flexible and dynamic in our programming. First, trainers should focus on desensitizing the animal to sights, sounds, and experiences. This is one effective way build an animal’s confidence. Second; build control indicators into your sessions. This allows your animal to signal when they want to start a session, continue a session, or end a session. Third, trainers use marks and stations that travel with the animal. In any setting these become a constant and reliable source of reinforcement. Fourth: Build behavioral mass behind the more challenging behaviors. Using deliberate primary distribution can work to improve an animal’s confidence. Lastly, it is important to identify a “safe” space. This ensures the animal always has the choice of finding comfort when nervous, frustrated, or bored. Using this format has built resiliency in our animals and has given our staff the confidence to be innovative and increased their ability to develop a connection to our animals, and audiences.
8:40-9:00am- Elephant Lands by Shawn Finnell and Bob Lee, Oregon Zoo
The Oregon Zoo’s elephant program has advanced the care and knowledge of Asian elephants for over 55 years. In 2015, we opened our most ambitious habitat to date, “Elephant Lands.” The exhibit was designed to meet the physiological, psychological, social and medical needs of the elephants entrusted to our care. We took a welfare-based approach to our design which focused on the needs of the animals throughout 24 hours. The elephant management team continues to develop innovative approaches to meeting the complex task of caring for our herd. Over the last six years, not only have we moved our elephants into a new facility, but we have also managed several complex social and medical situations including; treatments of tuberculosis, EEHV, and the changing social dynamics of a breeding herd. The features in Elephant Lands have allowed our program to focus on self-directed feeding strategies and movement patterns consistent with their wild counterparts. At the Oregon Zoo, our program focuses on providing our elephant’s with quality health care in combination with choice and control concepts.
9:00-9:20am- Conservation Intent to Conservation Action: Maximizing Animal Ambassador Programs for Meaningful Environmental Impact by Nicolette Canzoneri, Action Research; EnvARK Innovators
Many zoos and aquariums strive to positively impact conservation-related behaviors of their guests and typically target guest behavior through educational programming. Recent animal rights pressures have examined not only general zoo animal welfare, but also animal ambassador programs specifically, with the argument that the benefits do not outweigh the costs. It has thus become imperative to utilize best practices when developing, implementing, and evaluating animal programming to ensure that true and meaningful impacts are provided for our communities, ecosystems, and ultimately the animal ambassadors’ wild counterparts. My research has identified potential gaps within these processes that can be filled through institutional and industry collaboration to create the most effective programs that target conservation action. I will discuss the theoretical and practical aspects of utilizing behavioral science in program development and the three main hurdles industry professionals struggle with when targeting behavior. As zoos and aquariums continue to evolve as centers for conservation education and inspiration, it is important to develop programming that accurately reflects this purpose. My presentation intends to inform practitioners on current research-based tactics for targeting conservation action and how these tactics can be adopted within their institutions to meaningfully effect change. Zoo and aquarium practitioners are uniquely positioned within our communities to understand and appropriately apply behavior management techniques with guests as a result of their behavioral knowledge and dedication to conservation. With intentional evolution and continued refinement, our industry can have an incredibly powerful impact on the future of all wildlife.
9:20-10:20am- Hot Topics Panel Discussion by Nicki Boyd, San Diego Zoo; Barbara Heidenreich, Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training; Ken Ramirez, Karen Pryor Clicker Training
10:50-11:10am- Making the Most of What You Have: Behavior and Welfare in an Evolving Context by Jake Belair, Nashville Zoo at Grassmere
The Nashville Zoo’s Ambassador Animal program is in its 24th year, and with that comes the celebration of some major accomplishments, as well as an acknowledgement of the ways in which we can improve. I want to share the stories of our work with three individuals—a silvery-cheeked hornbill, a kookaburra, and a Harris’ hawk, in order to help describe our consistent emphasis on choice, control, and enhanced welfare for our ambassador animals. We radically changed the way our hornbill is handled, and now she can operate fully upon her environment. Our kookaburra, on the other hand, came to us recently as a yearling and we were able to train her exclusively with positive reinforcement methods. We still have to use anklets and jesses on our Harris’ hawk, but we have changed his flight routine so that he has complete control over where he goes and when the session is over. These examples demonstrate that even with limited resources, we can still promote voluntary participation with the vast majority of animals in our collections. I also want to make the case that any progressive change should be celebrated. These changes do not have to happen all at once—in fact, that is rarely possible. Instead, we focus on tangible, manageable changes; ones that do not require significantly reducing the number of animals available for programming, but instead encourage us to be flexible with our ideas of what the animals’ jobs are meant to be.
11:10-11:30am- Early Stages of Wolf Eel (Anarrhichthys ocellatus) Target Training by Shelly Pettit, Oregon Zoo
The introduction of wolf eels (Anarrhichthys ocellatus) to large and species diverse aquariums can change the feeding dynamics and call for special feeding techniques. In 2015, a small female wolf eel was introduced to a 19,000 gallon coldwater marine exhibit. Due to the shy nature and previous husbandry techniques of the animal, direct feedings were impossible and the use of SCUBA divers as a food source became the only option. Soon after being introduced to the aquarium and diver feedings, a minor incident occurred involving a diver and a confused and hungry wolf eel. This prompted the beginning of a target style feed training, specifically designed for the wolf eel. As training progressed, ultimately so did the goals associated with the training. Currently the wolf eel can successfully target feed with one or two divers in the water, and moving forward, the goal has moved toward the wolf eel completing the 23 foot swim to the surface of the exhibit to feed from the top. The target training has progressed over the years and since the initial training there have been zero negative incidents towards divers. The training has also increased the positive relationship between diver and animal and in fact lead to the discovery that the animal was in fact a male and not a female. Something that may have not been detected as quickly if the animal was not regularly being observed and examined during training sessions.
11:30-11:50am- Evacuation: The Northern California Carr Fire by Sharon Clay, Turtle Bay Exploration Park
Planning for the worst is what emergency plans are all about. For over 25 years I have looked at the words on the paper; “evacuation locations”, “emergency numbers”, “checklist”. Month after month we rotate food and supplies in the emergency kits. We practice the plan and it all seems like a waste of time. Never did I think we would have to carry one out. Never did I think our safe evacuation sites wouldn’t be available and never did I think it would last so long. On that fateful day of July 26, 2018 as the Carr fire was bearing down on our City, we had to do just that. This paper will take you through the adventure of evacuating 87 animals from our facility and the 2 month journey that followed. How we did it, what worked well and what we learned. We will show how we turned a 2100 ft house into a makeshift facility for almost two months and continued to provide excellent care for all the animals.
11:50-12:10pm- Evaluating Enrichment- Using Activity Budgets And Item Evaluation To Assess A Species Specific Enrichment Program by Allison Kao, Jason D. Wark, Lincoln Park Zoo
Environment enrichment is a core component of animal husbandry programs but evaluating the efficacy of enrichment has proven challenging. Currently, many zoos assess enrichment based on an animals’ interaction with enrichment items, often using a qualitative rating scale. Although systematic, these ratings have several limitations as they are often subjective, based on indirect evidence, and too narrow to comprehensively evaluate enrichment that may target multiple behavior goals. At Lincoln Park Zoo, animal husbandry managers are developing a three-tier evaluation process to gain a better understanding of the benefits and needed improvements to species-specific enrichment programs. The tiers include keeper records, enrichment object evaluation, and evaluation of activity budget goals for a species. Goals are being established for six standardized behavior categories (Inactive, Feed/Forage/Drink, Locomotion, Undesirable, Other Solitary, Social) using previous data and published reports of zoo or free-ranging populations as a guide. The ZooMonitor app is aiding in gathering and compiling the data needed to assess the program in a holistic manor. These results are guiding modifications of the enrichment and management plans, allowing us to continually evaluate and enhance enrichment programs per species and individuals.
12:10-1:10pm- Lunch on your own
1:10-1:30pm- “What’s App With That?” A Closer Look at how Technology can Assist us with our Animal Goals by Scott Trauger, CPBT-KA, Natural Encounters, Inc
Technology has changed the way we communicate. In our field, possibly more than others, we still rely on actual physical communication to facilitate our jobs. What if there is a way to keep that personal connection while still allowing us to achieve animal based goals with a better antecedent arrangement? At Natural Encounters, Inc., we have decided to embrace the future and find new ways to help us achieve our goals using current technology. This paper will look at the specific tools and scenarios in which these technological applications might be beneficial to you to achieve your animal goals.
1:30-1:50pm- A Detailed Behavioral Approach to Rebuilding Confidence, Trust and a Positive Relationship with a Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) by Debra Marrin*, Andrew Poole*, Dr. Bethany Krebs, and Kimberly McIntyre, San Francisco Zoo
On February 21, 2017 a four year old female Sumatran tiger (Panthera tigris sumatrae) was transferred from the San Francisco Zoo to another AZA facility for an SSP breeding recommendation. She did not adjust to the new facility, nor develop positive relationships with her new caretakers. The animal was described as nervous, aggressive, and agitated for many months after the move. This behavior was extremely dissimilar to the behavior she exhibited at the San Francisco Zoo. After more than 10 months with little progress both facilities agreed it would be best to bring the animal back to the San Francisco Zoo. Our wellness and carnivore teams did extensive evaluations of her current condition and existing management. A plan was developed prior to her return and results were evaluated on a daily basis. Adjustments were made as we let the tiger’s behavior tell us when she was ready to progress. The plan and process were detailed and led to her successful positive behavior change. The tiger developed and maintains positive relationships with a large number of staff, shifts reliably, and participates in voluntary husbandry behaviors. Her dramatic change has not only improved her quality of life, it has given us the opportunity to bring in a male Sumatran tiger for breeding. This case study shows how individualized animal care and management can improve welfare while simultaneously supporting large scale goals such as the SSP breeding plan for this highly endangered species.
1:50-2:10pm- Take Better Care of Animals By Taking Care of Yourself by PJ Beaven, ZooFit
Working with animals is a dream come true for many of us. We spend years studying and learning all we can to ensure we can give creatures in our care the best life. But do we consider how we take care of ourselves into the equation? PJ Beaven was a zookeeper who loved her animals, and wanted to do more. Her ah-ha moment came when she realized she couldn’t give great care to her animals if she didn’t take basic care of herself. PJ went on to develop a fitness program utilizing the principles of an animal care specialist. Using positive reinforcement training methods, enrichment, and even conservation, PJ lost 50 pounds but gained so much more. Learn how to breaking healthy habits into small, achievable steps makes lifelong behavior change to improve our own well-being. Incorporate enrichment to make working out fun and exciting. And make a difference by connecting healthy habits to conservation efforts. Whether you want to lose weight, pick up the extra large boomer ball, or increase your energy, PJ’s revolutionary fitness program will help you be the best version of yourself you can be. Improve your fitness and give better care to the animals.
2:10-2:30pm- Wolf Animal-Assisted Therapy: A Collaborative Behaviour Management and Enrichment Strategy by Gaby Dufresne-Cyr, Dogue Shop/Park Safari
The human-dog relationship is well documented. Recent studies have demonstrated C. familiaris has the ability to interpret and understand human emotions (Udell, Dorey & Wynne, 2003 and Guo, Meints, Hall, Hall & Mills, 2009) which confirms humans and animals form attachments. The human-animal bond is documented in Animal-Assisted Therapy (AAT) literature (Fine, 2010) as an inter-species connection which has the potential to promote human physical and psychological health. Anxiety, autism, Alzheimer, and learning disabilities are some of the conditions improved with AAT programs. Furthermore, positive physical results include a reduction in blood pressure, heart rate, and triglyceride levels (Barker and Dawson, 1998). Potential negative outcomes of dog AAT programs are thought repression, cognitive distraction, and reduced empathy; consequently, prolonged dog AAT sessions can be expected. The creation and development of the wolf animal-assisted therapy (WAAT) pilot program serves to establish a positive attachment between participant and wolf in order to reduce the number of intervention sessions, increase communication skills, improve self-esteem, and enhance empathy. During sessions, participant perception of wolves as dangerous predators decreases; conversely, the empathy connection establishes the desire to protect wolves through conservation efforts. As discussed by Guo, Meints, Hall, & Mills (2009), wolf reactivity to humans diminishes with exposure. WAAT is the ultimate management, training, conservation, enrichment, and therapeutic program for both human and animal. This innovative program has the potential to reduce both wolf and human undesirable behaviours, develop effective management and training strategies, promote conservation efforts, and overall enrich each other’s lives.
3:00-4:30pm- Complex Tools by Ken Ramirez, Karen Pryor Clicker Training
As practical trainers we use many tools or hear about unique tools that do not appear in the scientific literature. There is confusion about tools such as the Keep Going Signal, Jackpots, No Reinforcement Markers, Recall Signals and End of Session Signals. This presentation will look at each tool and explore what the science says about each tool as well as a look at practical applications.
Thank you for attending the ABMA conference!
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!