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Home >> References >> AZA Professional Course
AZA Professional Training Course
Registration

Registration for this course will open in January 2008. Please contact the AZA Training Department if you would like an email reminder when registration opens.

Objective

The 2005 AZA Accreditation Standards state that "a formal written enrichment program is recommended which promotes species-appropriate behavior opportunities for appropriate taxa–based on current information in behavioral biology and should include setting goals, planning/approval process, implementation, documentation, evaluation, and readjustment. It is recommended that a specific staff member or committee be assigned for program oversight." [AC-39, AC-40]

Towards that end, this course provides students with the skills to develop/enhance their institution's enrichment and training programs. Specifically, the goal of the course is to provide the leadership skills and structural framework needed to create and maintain successful enrichment and training programs, to understand the importance of an animal's natural and individual history in developing enrichment and training plans, and to examine the history of enrichment, training and animal welfare, as well as to provide critical terms and skills that will aid in communication about enrichment and training. Each student will be guided through the development of their own action plan aimed at moving their zoo or aquarium's enrichment and training programs forward.

Target Audience

Curators, line managers, and directors. This course is appropriate for education managers as well, especially those that utilize animals in demonstrations/shows. Keepers will find this course useful, but as designed, the course provides tools (e.g., a framework or process) for managers to create and sustain successful animal training and enrichment programs. Class size is limited to 25 participants.

Course Topics

Animal Enrichment and Training: History, Philosophy, and Theory
Participants will be introduced to a brief history of enrichment and training; critical terms that aid in communication about training and enrichment will be presented. The importance of understanding an animal's natural and individual history and how they relate to motivating behavior will be discussed. Enrichment and training (shaping) methods will be reviewed.

Framework or Process:
Key to Developing Successful Programs, Not Sporadic Events
The concept of a framework or process used to develop and sustain successful enrichment and training programs will be presented and discussed. Components of framework include goal-setting, planning, implementing, documenting, evaluating, and re-adjusting.

Animal Enrichment
Given the above framework, students will work through an example, developing an enrichment program for a specific group of animals housed in an AZA institution. A set of tools will be presented that will assist students in developing their own enrichment plans at their home institutions. Students will implement and assess some of the enrichment initiatives proposed during this exercise.

Animal Training
Given the above framework, students will work through an example, developing a training program for a specific group of animals housed in an AZA institution. A set of tools will be presented that will assist students in developing their own training plans at their home institutions. Students will observe implementation and assess some of the training initiatives proposed during this exercise.

Problem Solving and Action Planning
Most animal husbandry problems (e.g., animal won't shift) represent complex issues. Solutions to these problems may be complex (the animal may not shift because it's fearful of some aspect of the barn, may "prefer" to stay on exhibit because it's more interesting, may be coming into estrus, etc.). Students will learn about and practice problem-solving/ action planning techniques that can be used at their home institutions with their staff to solve and develop action plans for these and other husbandry issues.

Leadership Skills
Many zoo and aquarium managers experience a mixed response from their staff in response to proposals for implementing enrichment and training (as well as a multitude of other issues). Students will discuss and practice team-building, conflict resolution, coaching, and facilitation skills. Students will discuss building relationships with their staff and how to get "buy-in" for their programs.

Train the Trainer
The "trainer" here is the student. Students will learn how to teach these concepts to a cross-section of staff at their home institutions including dealing with curmudgeons (resistance to change).

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Updated September 10, 2009