The mission of the Behavior Scientific Advisory Group (Behavior SAG) is to promote positive welfare and science-based approaches to animal training, enrichment, and behavior-based husbandry programs. The Behavior SAG serves the AZA community of accredited institutions by supplying tools to support and enhance institutional programs, providing technical advice to meet the husbandry, social, and behavioral needs of animals, and promoting behavioral strategies which can be applied to the conservation of species.
It is overseen by the Animal Welfare Committee.
The Behavior SAG sends out a call for grant applications on March 1st.
2022 Call for Grants
Behavior SAG Grant applications are due June 1st. Applications can be sent to Angela Miller, Behavior SAG Chair.
2021 Behavior SAG Grant Application
The Behavior SAG Grant award winner is announced at the AZA Annual Conference during the Behavior SAG Open Session.
The Behavior SAG Grant funds are distributed by December 31st.
The Behavior SAG will request a mid-year project update from awardees via email in August of the following year, after the grant is distributed. Progress updates should be a brief 2-3 sentences.
The Behavior SAG Grant End-of-Project Report is due April 1st, the year following the mid-year project update.
The Behavior SAG is administered by a Steering Committee (SC) composed of a maximum of 15 members. There are four officer positions within the committee: Chair, Vice-Chair, Secretary, and Treasurer.
Angela Miller, Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Melissa Nelson Slater, Bronx Zoo
Brenda Melton, Steinhart Aquarium
Heidi Hellmuth, Saint Louis Zoo
Nicki Boyd, San Diego Zoo
Tarah Cornelius, Houston Zoo
Ellen Dreyer, Brevard Zoo
Heather Keenan, Zoo Miami
Kimberly Leser, Oklahoma City Zoo and Botanical Garden
Steve Martin, Natural Encounters, Inc.
Darren Minier, Conservation Society of California, Oakland Zoo
Christine Montgomery, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
Rachel Salant, Woodland Park Zoo
Jason Wark, Lincoln Park Zoo
In addition to the Steering Committee, the Behavior SAG includes a general membership comprised of individuals serving on working groups to advance the goals of the SAG.
The Behavior SAG sends out a call for general membership applications (dependent on open positions) and holds Steering Committee open position elections at the AZA Annual Conference during the Behavior SAG Open Session.
Behavior SAG General Membership Applications are due October 1st. Applications can be sent to Angela Miller, Behavior SAG Chair.
The Behavior SAG reviews and selects General Membership applicants by November 1st. Decision notifications are emailed to applicants by November 15th
Use behavior science-based information to provide AZA-accredited facilities with resources to create robust training programs.
Provide resources to help AZA-accredited facilities increase innovation in enrichment programming and move industry focus from item-driven to behavior-driven and experiential enrichment programs.
Enrichment Evaluation Toolkit
Increase understanding in the field of how to use animal natural behaviors to guide husbandry programs and improve animal welfare.
Provide tools to support and facilitate science-based behavior research in AZA-accredited facilities.
Provide a robust communication platform for AZA-accredited facilities to ensure access to resources regarding all aspects of behavior-based animal care and research.
Work with AZA entities to develop and recommend standards that encourage a strong culture of behavior-based animal care for AZA-accredited facilities.
The Behavior SAG Steering Committee organizes open meetings for all individuals and proposes relevant sessions in conjunction with AZA’s annual conference and mid-year meeting.
The Behavior SAG has an Institutional Representative (IR) from every AZA Accredited facility. The IR is the contact for Behavior SAG communications, able to vote in our election process, and has the opportunity to run for election to our steering committee.
The Behavior SAG will announce opportunities to serve on the Steering Committee or General Membership. For more information about responsibilities, appointments and terms see the Behavior SAG Steering Committee and General Membership Positions Descriptions.
Join the Animal Behavior Open Forum on the AZA Network to stay connected with discussion threads, resources and announcements.
Questions about the Behavior SAG? Please contact Angela Miller, Chair.