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Exotic Animals

Podcast: Karen Reads Animal Attachment Selections from Reaching the Animal Mind

You’ll enjoy listening to Karen’s own podcast (available at the bottom of this page) – audio selections about animal attachments from her latest book, Reaching the Animal Mind.

On My Mind: Zoos Then and Now

What’s a good thing to do with a bunch of kids on a summer day? Go to the zoo! I’ve never gotten over my childhood love of zoos. I took my kids, and now I take theirs (you can share a memorable visit to the zoo with my grandchildren in Reaching the Animal Mind, Chapter 5, Creativity).

KPCT Accepting Submissions for Canis Film Festival Video Contest

Over $500 in cash prizes and a video contract await the producers of top videos that showcase innovative and informative animal training featuring positive training methods. Everyone can qualify for entry, provided that each demonstrated trick or feat is achieved through force-free training methods, and submissions can feature any species.

Building Behaviors at the Niabi Zoo: Part Two

Welcome back to Building Behaviors at the Niabi Zoo, Part Two!

Teaching cooperative husbandry behaviors is critical to excellent animal care. The many benefits of trainer patience, a shaping plan, excellent observation skills, clicker mechanics, and the ability to modify training sessions based on the animals’ needs can be seen in this the video just below of a cotton-top tamarin. In the video, the 14.4-ounce female tamarin calmly follows the target onto the scale for voluntary weights. Even as the scale moves slightly, she remains calm and fluent.

Building Behaviors at the Niabi Zoo: Part One

The spring of 2008 was one of those times in my professional career when two wonderful opportunities merged into one. I was a few months away from completing the Karen Pryor Academy (KPA) Dog Trainer Program, honing my skills as a clicker trainer to help both animals and people. Just as my hard work began to come to fruition and I was about to graduate from the course, I received an e-mail from Niabi Zoological Society asking if I wanted to be considered as an applicant for their recently available Animal Training & Behavior Consultant post.

The previous Consultant is a dear friend and colleague of mine. I met Meg Hudson Dye in 1991 while we were both marine mammal trainers with the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Her career path moved her toward exotic animal training consulting, which led her to Niabi Zoo. When Meg moved to North Carolina, she resigned her position with Niabi Zoo to pursue other amazing opportunities (one as the training consultant for Duke University’s Lemur Program). Why is this relevant? As a result of the amazing groundwork that Meg began with Niabi Zoo, I joined a team of proactive and positive trainers, a team that already had great learning experiences with Meg. My thoughts went from, “Wow, this is such a treat to be Meg’s successor!” to “Wow…I have some big shoes to fill!”