Crocodilian Biology and Professional Management

Hosted by St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park 
St. Augustine, FL
Next Offering - Spring 2023

Crocodilian Biology and Professional Management concentrates on the captive maintenance techniques, husbandry, breeding, and special requirements for the care of crocodiles, caiman, gharials, and alligators in zoos and aquariums. Relevant topics on basic crocodilian biology such as taxonomy, reproductive biology, behavior, anatomy, physiology, and conservation are included as the foundation for captive management practices. Join us at the only facility that houses all existing species of crocodilians and learn from the experts! Please note: animal capture is not a part of this course; capture experience can be obtained from SAAF staff after successful completion of the class.

Course Objectives

After completing this course participants will:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of professional maintenance techniques, husbandry, breeding, nesting, egg incubation, training, and more
  • Demonstrate knowledge of crocodilian biology such as taxonomy, reproductive biology, behavior, and anatomy
  • Assess issues in conservation and in the management of crocodilian populations
  • Apply a specialized skill set for crocodilian care developed through lectures, demonstrations, and hands-on wet labs 
  • Facilitate optimal social grouping and introductions through effective enclosure designs
  • Demonstrate ability to develop specialized strategies to benefit comprehensive requirements in caring for crocodiles, caiman, gharials, and alligators in zoos and aquariums 


Kent A. Vliet, Ph.D., Coordinator of Laboratories - University of Florida
John Brueggen, Director - St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Jen Brueggen, Crocodilian Biologist - St. Augustine Alligator Farm
John Groves, Emeritus Curator of Herpetology - North Carolina Zoo
Greg Lepera, Greg Lepera Photography
Jim Darlington, Curator of Reptiles - St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Jessi Krebs, Curator of Reptiles & Amphibians - Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo
Elliott Jacobson, Professor of Zoological Medicine - University of Florida
Darryl Heard, B.V., Ph.D., Service Chief in Zoological Medicine - Universiy of Florida: College of Veterinary Medicine
Kevin Torregrosa, Collections Manager of Herpetology -  Bronx Zoo
Gen AndersonGeneral Curator - St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Curt Harbsmeier, J.D., Executive Board Member - Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo
Bruce Shwedick, Director - Crocodile Conservation Services
Bill Zeigler, Senior Vice President of Collections and Animal Care - Chicago Zoological Society
Matt Shirley, Research Associate, Rare Species Conservatory Foundation
Mei Len Sanchez-Barr, Executive Director - EcoAdventures

Is This Course Right For You?

This course is designed for zookeepers and professional biologists who work with crocodilians or who may work with them in the near future.


Students must be at least 21 years of age. Priority will be given to AZA members, but volunteers and private herpetologists 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 for consideration.

Course Schedule  

April 17th
 - Student registration
 - Opening evening reception

- Class meets all day

April 24th
- Class meets
- Closing reception

April 25th*
- Capture and Restraint Training Day offered by St. Augustine Alligator Farm (Optional - Add'l fee required)

Attendance is required for course participants for the duration of the course until the evening of the last day. As a result, individuals generally depart the following day. Attendees will receive a detailed schedule for their course after their registration is confirmed.  Please note, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm will be offering a separate capture training on the day following this course for an additional fee. Information on registering for this additional day will be provided upon admission to the course. Those attending the capture training should plan to travel home 8PM that evening or the following morning.

Course Travel & Registration

Travel & Accommodations

Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) is the closest airport.

Course participants stay at a hotel within a 10-minute walking distance to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm.

General Hotel Pricing**:
$80+ One/Two Queen Bed(s)

Tuition & Expenses**

The AZA registration fee below covers tuition and lunches for each day of the course. Other expenses include hotel, travel, and other meals. Registration prices are subject to change. 

Scholarship funding for courses is available through a competitive process.  AZA scholarship applications begin mid-May, are due by mid-July and are awarded by early September. 

The St. Augustine Alligator Farm coordinates an additional scholarship opportunity for this course, the John L. Behler Scholarship. Applications are due by January 1st each year. For more information and to learn how to apply, you may review the application here

Staff at AZA Accredited / Certified Institutions*
Early Bird Rate:
 12 weeks prior to course start date
$1350 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1550 without Qualifying Individual Membership

Regular Rate: 4 weeks prior to course start date
$1550 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1750 without Qualifying Individual Membership

Individual Membership must be Professional Affiliate or Professional Fellow to qualify. 

Individuals Not Employed at an AZA-accredited or Certified Insitution*
Early Bird Rate:
 12 weeks prior to course start date
$1550 with Professional Associate Membership

Regular Rate: 4 weeks prior to course start date
$1750 with Professional Associate Membership

Individual Membership Requirement
Staff from non-AZA accredited institutions must have an individual AZA membership to apply and register for an AZA course. 

**Prices are subject to change 

Accepted forms of payment for registration are by: credit card, check or purchase order. 

For information regarding our 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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