ABMA Documents

ABMA Bylaws
As a member of the ABMA, you have the right to review our Bylaws and question/comment on any of our practices if they appear contradictory. This is one way to become active and participate fully in the organization. After all, you are the ABMA! Also review the minutes of our organization to familiarize yourself even more with the daily working of the not-for-profit organization. Yes another way to contribute to the growth of the ABMA is to become active in some of our committees.

Amended Bylaws:

The voting membership of the ABMA approved the amended bylaws on 15 November 2013. If you have any questions or comments about the amended bylaws, please contact us!


The name of the corporation is THE ANIMAL BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT ALLIANCE (ABMA), hereafter referred to as “ABMA” or “Corporation”. The address of the principal office of ABMA shall initially be 848 N. Rainbow Blvd #5285, Las Vegas, Nevada, 89107, USA. Meetings of Members and Directors shall be held at such places or in such manner as may be designated by the Board of directors in accordance with these Bylaws. The Board of Directors may change the principal office of ABMA at any time.

Download the full version of the ABMA amended By-Laws.

Mission, Vision, and Core Values

Our Mission
The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) continually strives to advance intentional and enlightened behavior management to improve the lives and welfare of all animals.

Our Vision
To be a global leader dedicated to advancing animal welfare through excellence in behavior management.

Our Core Values
1. Behavior management is an essential component of animal welfare.
2. Environmental enrichment and positive reinforcement training are highly effective strategies for managing and modifying behavior.
3. Goal-based enrichment, designed to offer animals behavioral opportunities, is an essential component of all animal programs.
4. Positive reinforcement training is our most effective and ethical method of behavior modification.
5. Human and animal safety must be at the core of an animal behavior management program.
6. Learning should be conducted in a nurturing and non-threatening environment for both animals and people.
7. Science-based methods of assessment are a valuable tool for evaluating, refining, and advancing behavior management strategies.
8. Behavior management can advance conservation by helping to mitigate human-animal conflict in wild populations, facilitating in situ conservation efforts, and maintaining behaviorally and physically healthy captive populations.
9. Pro-active behavior management is an essential component of responsible animal care since learning is always occurring.
10. The sharing of knowledge and new ideas is fundamental to advancing animal behavior management.

ABMA Code of Ethics
This code of ethics for members of The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) has been adopted by the board of directors to promote and maintain the highest standards of professional and personal conduct among its members. It is the objective of the ABMA to promote and advance the profession of animal behavior management in order to enhance the husbandry and welfare of animals.

By joining, each member agrees to support the objectives of the ABMA as reflected in the bylaws, Article III, Objectives and Purposes. Furthermore, adherence to the standards below is required for membership in the ABMA, and serves to assure confidence in the integrity and professionalism of ABMA members.

Maintain the highest standard of professional and personal conduct.
Provide the best possible husbandry for animals in our care in accordance with all federal, state, and local regulations.
Maintain the highest possible safety standards at all times.
Practice the highest standards of animal behavior management.

ABMA Member Meeting Minutes
This page includes organizational documents from ABMA member business meetings. Please review the contents for each meeting.

It is mandatory according to the ABMA By-Laws, for these minutes to be made available to the members. These minutes contain critical information such as decision making motions, financial reports and other key items pertaining to yearly report to the members about the daily functions of the not-for-profit organization. All ABMA member levels with the right to vote, will be able to approve the minutes from the preceding year (after reviewing the content) at the Annual Conference. We look forward to seeing you there! Please feel free to email questions or comments through “Contact ABMA“.

ABMA Position Statements
Positive ReinforcementEnrichmentAversivesAmbassador AnimalsAnimals In Human CareAnkus
The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA), in support of our core values, endorses the use of positive reinforcement as our most effective and ethical method of behavior modification for all taxa. A science-based, proactive, positive reinforcement training program reduces fear and stress, resulting in enhanced animal welfare.
The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA), in support of our core values, believes that a comprehensive enrichment program is an essential element of animal care. Enrichment programs should be based on the natural history and behavior of the species and the individual animal. Enrichment should be goal-based, evaluated for safety and effectiveness, offer choice and control, and provide opportunities to utilize natural abilities. A comprehensive enrichment program is integral for the optimal physical and psychological proscar health and welfare of all animals in human care.
The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA), in support of our core values, does not endorse the use of aversives in routine animal management. Physical or psychological intimidation increases fear, hinders learning, can increase aggression, and is detrimental to animal welfare. We recognize that for the safety of animals and people, some aversives may be unavoidable. The frequency and intensity of these aversives should be strictly limited and aversive-based training methods should be avoided. The ABMA advocates that animal care professionals and organizations strive to rely on positive reinforcement-based training programs to facilitate routine husbandry and veterinary care.
The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) believes that zoological facilities have a unique opportunity to utilize animals to inspire the public to care about and protect the natural world. Animal ambassadors educate and inspire the public everyday by providing them with the opportunity to form emotional connections to these animals through real life experiences in safe and meaningful ways. These real life experiences and connections cannot be replicated in other mediums such as books or television. The ABMA believes that animal ambassadors are critical to the successful preservation of the natural world. For the purpose of this position statement the ABMA defines an animal ambassador as an animal that is trained and desensitized to participate in shows, demonstrations, and interactive programs (on or off site) for the public, all of which support educational, inspirational, and conservation goals.

The Animal Behavior Management Alliance fully supports the use of animals as ambassadors regardless of species when, a comprehensive behavior management program is in place. This behavior management program should be driven primarily by the use of positive reinforcement and should combine operant conditioning with goal-based enrichment. In addition, the ABMA believes that all ambassador animals require species appropriate housing, diet, and veterinary care to achieve the highest level of welfare. The positive reinforcement driven behavior management program should be applied through the expertise of skilled and knowledgeable trainers. The messaging to the public should ensure that the animals are perceived in a way that does not encourage the audience to participate in unwanted activities or behaviors such as, the exotic pet trade. All information that is provided to guests must be correct, current, and species-specific.
The Animal Behavior Management Alliance believes that in order for animal ambassadors to inspire the public, the presentation of the animals should be tailored to the specific audience. Some presentations and interactions may successfully convey information by providing a motivating guest experience through the combination of education and entertainment, while others may rely on a more lecture style guest experience. Healthy animals will continue to inspire, teach, and act to inspire others become successful conservationists.

The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) believes that the public display and presentation of animals through exhibits, shows, and interactive programs, regardless of species, significantly contributes to the overall conservation and preservation of the natural world. Additionally, the ABMA believes that the proper public display of animals is crucial for inspiring current and future generations to care about the world that we share.

The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) supports the public display of animals regardless of taxa when the following components are at the core of the public display facility.
•Animal and human health, safety, and welfare are held to the highest possible standards.
•A comprehensive positive reinforcement driven behavior management program is consistently and effectively applied to all animals regardless of species. The use of aversives should not be used in routine animal management. (see ABMA’s position statement on the use of aversives)
•Goal based enrichment and positive reinforcement are utilized jointly to achieve successful behavior management goals.
•Education and a meaningful conservation message are integral components of the facility.
•Social, physical, behavioral, and nutritional needs of each individual animal are always the priority.
•The facility’s staff is comprised of individuals who posses a correct understanding and can properly apply positive reinforcement driven training and goal based environmental enrichment to all of the animals regardless of species.
•All staff are properly educated and trained in the physical and psychological needs of the animals they are providing care for.
•All enclosures meet or ideally, exceed, the standards set by the Animal Welfare Act and enforced by the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
•The facility strives to meet the more rigorous requirements set by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA), even if not seeking AZA accreditation.
•Zoos and aquariums participate in tightly controlled breeding programs and take responsibility for all their animals and their offspring, even when they are no longer under their direct care, with excess young not permitted except to maintain proper gender balances and social groupings; no zoo or aquarium should send their “surplus” animals to “canned hunts,” auctions or medical research facilities, and placing animals with private individuals should not be considered an option for all species.
•Zoos and aquariums participate in properly managed breeding programs to help expand and control the genetic diversity of all species, and will only partner with like-minded facilities that follow the same outstanding animal care and husbandry.

The Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA), in support of our core values, does not endorse the use of the ankus in the care of elephants. This position includes any other term that refers to the ankus such as: guide, bullhook, and goad. The ankus has more than four thousand years of history of being used to create fear, intimidation, and pain to train elephants. Elephants that have experienced this form of fear-based training may develop a level of psychological trauma associated with the sight of the ankus even if the ankus is no longer utilized in the original manner. This learning environment directly conflicts with a prominent ABMA core value, “Learning should be conducted in a nurturing and non-threatening environment for both animals and people.”
It is imperative that the animal training profession continues to raise standards in using the science of positive reinforcement to drive animal learning as well as to improve perceptions of what we do. Therefore, the ABMA fully supports the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) decision to phase out the ankus in all of its accredited facilities.
Many behaviorally progressive elephant programs have proven, over more than three decades, that elephant care based on positive reinforcement rather than aversives (stimuli the elephant seeks to avoid) creates an environment where elephants thrive.
ABMA continues to welcome all animal care professionals as we strive together to provide excellence in animal welfare through positive strategies for teaching animals.
The board is committed to identifying and providing new, meaningful, and impactful opportunities to learn principles, strategies, and techniques to apply positive reinforcement training in order to enhance the welfare of all animals in our care. ABMA’s vision is “to be a global leader dedicated to advancing animal welfare through excellence in behavior management.” Sharing our positions on the application of animal training, animal care, and animal welfare is crucial to advancing that vision. ABMA positions help to guide our profession, amplify the views of our field, and better inform our society.