Environmental Enrichment in Zoos and Aquariums

Hosted by Disney's Animal Kingdom®
Orlando, FL
Spring 2022

The purpose of this course is to provide zoo and aquarium staff involved in the daily care of animals with a background and skills necessary to enrich animal environments and to continue to advance enrichment in zoos and aquariums.  This 5-day course will include classroom time that provides a historical perspective of environmental enrichment as well as an overview of enrichment concepts, focusing on aspects of the SPIDER framework.  Classroom time will also focus on communication skills, using resources wisely, safety, behavioral observation skills, problem solving techniques and other programmatic considerations. In addition to classroom time, selected enrichment concepts and skills will be taught during group activities and individual hands on skill development opportunities.  Students will have also have hands-on experience using the SPIDER framework in developing, presenting and evaluating an enrichment initiative to animals housed at the zoo.

Course Objectives

After completion of the Environmental Enrichment in Zoos and Aquariums Course:

  • Students can define, articulate and apply concepts around animal welfare in relation to enrichment.  Students will understand that welfare is measured at the individual level, not just at the species level.
  • Students can define, articulate and apply concepts of enrichment.  They will be able to demonstrate behavioral goal-based enrichment development.
  • Students can articulate how the animal’s individual and natural history affect the animal, how to adjust for this and how to apply natural history to individual behavior.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to create, articulate and critique a well-written enrichment plan.
  • Students will be knowledgeable about how to assess risk with enrichment as it applies to animals and humans.
  • Students will understand and be able to demonstrate different documentation methods, effectiveness of an enrichment initiative and re-adjustment for initiatives to increase their effectiveness. Students will learn basic animal observation, data collection and analysis skills.
  • Students will be can define and apply problem-solving techniques and best practices.
  • Students will be knowledgeable about common challenges with enrichment and effective strategies to face those challenges.
  • Students will understand the educational or guest components and demonstrates the importance of enrichment, highlighting natural history, providing quality welfare, positive public perception, etc. at their facility.
  • Students will apply what they learn to implement individual projects at their facility and share results with the course students and instructors.


Michelle Skurski, Zoological Manager of Behavioral Husbandry - Disney's Animal Kingdom®
Angela Miller, Zoological Manager of Behavioral Husbandry - Disney's Animal Kingdom®
Tim Sullivan, Curator of Behavioral Husbandry - Chicago Zoological Society - Brookfield Zoo
Mark Kingston Jones, Workshop Coordinator - The Shape of Enrichment / Co-Founder - Team Building with BITE

Is This Course for You?

The typical students for this course are those involved in the daily care of animals.  Keepers and aquarists will find this course particularly useful, as the course provides an understanding of and practice with the skills necessary for animal care staff to create and maintain successful enrichment programs.


None. 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 azatraining@aza.org for consideration.

Course Schedule  

First Day
 - Student registration
 - Opening Icebreaker

- Class meets all day

Last Day
- Review of class projects
- Closing Reception

Attendance for course participants is for the duration of the course until the afternoon of the last day. As a result, individuals generally depart later that evening or the following day.  

The course does not include free time in the park. Once you have recieved your official admission acceptance notification, we recommend students plan to arrive prior to the course or plan to stay past the course event to visit Disney's Animal Kingdom. Course tuition does not include a ticket to the park. A separate ticket for your day of visit will need to be purchased. 

Course Travel & Registration 

Travel & Accommodations 

Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the closest airport. Course participants will stay at a designated hotel in Kissimmee and will be transported to Disney's Animal Kingdom each day.  

General Hotel Pricing*:
$129 - King Bed
$139 - Double Queen Bed

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 are due by mid-July and are awarded by early September. 

Please note tuition rates do not include theme park admission to Disney's Animal Kingdom. 

AZA Accredited / Certified Institutions*
Early Bird Rate:
 Deadline December 8, 2019
$1050 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1250 without Qualifying Individual Membership

Regular Rate: Deadline January 26, 2020
$1250 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1450 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:
 Deadline December 8, 2019
$1250 with Professional Associate Membership

Regular Rate: Deadline January 26, 2020
$1450 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. 

An overview of the course tuition rates here. Accepted forms of payment for registration are by: credit card, check or purchase order. 

*Prices are subject to change

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

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