Environmental Enrichment in Zoos and Aquariums

Hosted by Disney's Animal Kingdom®
Orlando, FL
February 25 - March 2, 2023

The purpose of this course is to provide zoo and aquarium staff involved in the daily care of animals with the 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 also gain hands-on experience using the SPIDER framework in developing, presenting and evaluating an enrichment initiative for animals housed at a 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 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, the 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 able to 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 demonstrate 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

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 received 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 the visit will need to be purchased. 


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

Is This Course Right 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.

Travel & Accommodations

Air Travel
Orlando International Airport (MCO) is the closest airport. Course participants will stay at the TownePlace Suites Orlando at FLAMINGO CROSSINGS, and transportation is provided to Disney's Animal Kingdom each day.  

Students have access to a room block at the TownePlace Suites Orlando at FLAMINGO CROSSINGS, located at 13295 Hartzog Rd, Winter Garden, FL 34787. The room rate per night is $159, and includes a complimentary breakfast. Students must use the booking link provided after they register in order to be included in the AZA room block and access the rate of $159 per night.

Please wait until you are admitted into the course before making your reservations. You will receive an email containing detailed information and a hotel booking link once you are admitted.

Course Registration

AZA Accredited / Certified Institutions*
Early Bird Rate:
 Deadline 12 weeks prior to course start date
$1150 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1350 without Individual AZA Membership

Regular RateDeadline 4 weeks prior to course start date
$1350 with Individual AZA Membership 
$1550 without Individual AZA Membership

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

Non-AZA Institutions
Early Bird Rate:
 Deadline 12 weeks prior to course start date
$1350 with Professional Associate Membership

Regular RateDeadline 4 weeks prior to course start date
$1550 with Professional Associate Membership

For information regarding our registration and refund policies, please visit our Professional Development Course Policies page. Accepted forms of payment for registration are by credit card, check, or purchase order.

To register with a credit card
You may now register and pay online with a credit card! Non-members can log in too, after creating a free account. After logging in, choose "Professional Development" from the menu on the left. Next, click on the title of the event for which you would like to register. Finally, choose "Event Registration" from the options at the top and complete the registration process. When registering online, there is no need to submit the registration form. You will receive an acceptance email or waitlist email once acceptance decisions are made. 

To register with a check or purchase order
Please email your request to register, specifying the course and the name of whom you would like to register, to the Professional Development Coordinator.
Checks sent for course payment will be cashed immediately upon receipt as per standard business practices. Cashing your check does not indicate that you have been accepted into a course. You will receive an acceptance email or a waitlist email once acceptance decisions are made. If you are not admitted into the course from the waitlist, a full refund will be promptly issued.

*Prices are subject to change

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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