Session 1

Steve Martin (President/CEO, NEI) – “The Future of Zoos (Through The Eyes of a Dreamer)”
Walt Disney said, “First, think. Second, believe. Third, dream. And finally, dare.” I believe dreaming is what made Walt Disney so successful, and what helps shape zoological facilities of the future. Dreams have inspired me toward many goals, some achieved and many still living in my imagination waiting for the right condition to take flight. I dream the zoological facility of the future will flourish in a safe zone where daring to act on dreams is supported and nurtured, and dreams that don’t work out are seen as opportunities to start again with more information, rather than a failure to be 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 principles 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 adaptations to “earn” a living, much like their wild counterparts.

Session 2

Training Panel – Steve Martin, Chris Jenkins (COO, NEI), Ari Bailey (Show Manager, NEI)
Training is one of the most important aspects of animal management and welfare. For this presentation attendees will be encouraged to send in training challenges, training plans, training goals, etc., for the panel members to discuss with science-based approaches to solving problems and creating predictable and reliable behavior outcomes.

Session 3

Chris Jenkins – “Don’t Say Don’t: Moving Past ‘How Do I Stop My Animal From…’”
It is a common phrase used throughout the zoo and animal training world, and one that unwittingly leads trainers to come up with punishment-based strategies in dealing with their animals’ behavior challenges. Wonderful possibilities exist in modifying and replacing unwanted behaviors through positive reinforcement, but the first step for many trainers is to first change their mindset from “How do I stop my animal from…?” and instead replace this question with “What do I want them to do instead?” This paper will take a look into the challenges associated with training strategies that focus on the reduction or elimination of behaviors, and will outline an alternative strategy that instead involves identifying a specific problem behavior in observable terms, analyzing the influences in the environment that are helping to maintain it, and formulating a plan to use positive reinforcement to train the animal to do a different, incompatible behavior instead. Specific behavior problems and their resultant training strategies will be presented in detail to illustrate this process, helping to set the stage for attendees to consider for themselves how they might adjust the way in which they approach behavior challenges in order to empower them to solve these problems in a way that strengthens relationships and deals with their animals in more positive, less intrusive ways.

Session 4

Ari Bailey – “The Art and Skill of Learning As Humans in the Animal Field”
I find myself consistently surrounded by amazing people with different levels of experience in our field. I have had the opportunity to witness many of these amazing people teach and learn and in turn I have learned from these experiences. By watching others learn, not just new things but new ways to do things they have done before, I have myself become a better learner. Effective learning is a skill and an art and it takes a great teacher to encourage the growth of this skill. It also takes a motivated learner who has the drive to grow this skill. It isn’t always easy to learn, making mistakes is a huge part of the learning process and how you deal with the consequences of those mistakes will shape your future experiences. Sometimes it is easy to forget that the same science we apply to training animals also applies to our colleagues and ourselves.

Session 5

Dr. Susan Friedman, PhD (Behavior+Works) – “What’s Emotion Got To Do With It?”
Join the incomparable Dr. Susan Friedman on this 1-hour webinar! All behavior is emotional. In this talk, participants will learn an important view of emotions that draws on both contemporary neuroscience and behavior analysis. Understanding more about how conditions influence emotions and emotional behavior is both personally empowering and will improve animal welfare, as well.