Managing Animal Enrichment and Training Programs

Hosted by Natural Encounters
Winter Haven, FL
Fall 2023, Date TBD

Managing Animal Enrichment and Training Programs provides students with the tools and skills needed to set up and manage a successful enrichment and training program that meets AZA accreditation standards. While some time will be spent on the concepts of training and enrichment, this course is not a workshop to develop enrichment ideas or learn animal training skills. This course focuses on developing the components of a successful program and learning the leadership skills needed to successfully implement that program.

Course Objectives

Students will understand the AZA accreditation standards related to animal welfare, enrichment and training. This includes:

  • Understanding what to expect during an inspection

  • The components of a successful program

  • The documentation required for accreditation

  • Definitions of commonly used terms

  • The importance of considering natural history and the background of individual animals

  • Basic concepts of enrichment and animal training

  • Discussion of new ideas and trends relating to animal welfare, training, and enrichment

  • The importance of goal setting, planning, implementation, documentation, evaluation, and readjustment

  • Safety considerations for training and enrichment

  • Problem-solving process for addressing behavior issues and animal management challenges

Students will understand the importance of leadership skills in developing a successful program and be able to demonstrate and apply those skills at their institution. These skills include:

  • Feedback and coaching

  • Meeting facilitation

  • Team building

  • Effective communication skills

Course Schedule

First Day
 - Arrival on Monday
 - Course activities, including student registration, begin after 4 PM
 - Opening evening reception
 - Courses meet for individual opening session/class

- Class meets all day 

Last Day
- Class meets all day 
- Closing reception

Attendance for course participants is required for the duration of the course until late afternoon on the last day (typically by 4:00 PM but schedules are subject to change - students will receive scheduled times once admitted to the course).


Hollie Colahan, VP of Living Collections - Birmingham Zoo
Marty MacPhee, Guest Animal Experience Manager - Disney's Animal Kingdom
Beth Posta, Curator of Behavioral Husbandry & Research - Toledo Zoo
Marcia Salverson, Assistant Curator of Primates - Denver Zoo
Lori Semple
, Senior Aquarist - SEA LIFE Charlotte -Concord Aquarium

Is This Course Right For You?

This course is designed for managers, curators, and directors that currently are or will be managing an enrichment program at their institution. Keepers, aquarists, trainers, and educators will find this course useful in implementing programs in their work areas.

Employment at a zoo or aquarium. Priority will be given to AZA members, but volunteers and private animal trainers are welcome to attend. Those not affiliated with an AZA-accredited institution will be considered on a case-by-case basis; please submit a letter describing your intended benefit from taking this course to for consideration.

Travel & Accommodations

Air Travel
More information to come

More information to come

Please wait until you are admitted into the course before making your reservations. You will receive an email containing detailed information regarding your accommodations and transportation once you are admitted.

For information regarding our code of conduct, registration, and refund policies, please visit our Professional Development Course Policies page.

Questions? For additional details please contact the AZA Professional Development Department.

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