• Comprehensively explains animal learning theories and current best practices in animal training within zoos

    This accessible, up-to-date book on animal training in a zoo/aquaria context provides a unified approach to zoo animal learning, bringing together the art and science of animal training. Written by experts in academia and working zoos, it incorporates the latest information from the scientific community along with current best practice, demystifying the complexities of training zoo animals. In doing so, it teaches readers how to effectively train animals and to fully understand the consequences of their actions.

    Zoo Animal Learning and Training starts with an overview of animal learning theory. It describes the main categories of animal learning styles; considers the diverse natural history of zoo animals; reviews the research undertaken which demonstrates ultimate benefits of learning; and highlights the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches. It also shows how the direct application of learning theory can be integrated into zoo animal management; discusses how other factors might affect development; and investigates situations and activities from which animals learn. It also explores the theoretical basis that determines whether enrichments are successful.

    • Provides an easily accessibly, jargon-free introduction to the subject
    • Explores different training styles, providing theoretical background to animal learning theory as well as considerations for practical training programme – including how to set them up, manage people and animals within them and their consequences
    • Includes effective skills and ‘rules of thumb’ from professional animal trainers
    • Offers commentary on the ethical and welfare implications of training in zoos
    • Features contributions from global experts in academia and the zoo profession
    • Uniquely features both academic and professional perspectives

    Zoo Animal Learning and Training is an important book for students, academics and professionals. Suited to senior undergraduate students in zoo biology, veterinary science, and psychology, and for post-graduate students in animal management, behaviour and conservation, as well as zoo biology. It is also beneficial to those working professionally in zoos and aquaria at different levels.

  • Dedication

    List of boxes

    Notes on contributors




    A: Introduction: Demystify
    Vicky Melfi

    Chapter 1: A rough guide to learning theory
    Nicole Dorey

    Chapter 2: The cognitive abilities of wild animals
    Lindsay Mehrkam

    Chapter 3: The ultimate benefits of learning
    Kathy Baker & Vicky Melfi

    Chapter 4: Choosing the right method (reinforcement Vs punishment)
    Ken Ramirez

    Modality boxes

    Consideration of what modalities animals use to communicate with one another; as training programmes are based on good communication between the zoo professional and animal they are working with.

    Visual (Andrew Smith); Auditory (Erik Miller Klein); Olfactory (Neil Jordan)

    B: Types of learning in the zoo
    Nicole Dorey

    Chapter 5: What’s to learn in a zoo
    Fay Clark

    Chapter 6: Learning from Environmental enrichment
    Robert J. Young, Cristiano Schetini de Azevedo & Cynthia Fernandes Cipreste

    Chapter 7: The art of ‘active’ training
    Steve Martin

    Chapter 8: Integrating training into husbandry
    Marty MacPhee

    Chapter 9: Us and them: Human-animal interactions as learning events
    Geoff Hosey & Vicky Melfi

    Taxa specific boxes

    Consideration of species specific differences in cognitive ability are explored in academic boxes and the considerations necessary to practically implement training with different species explored in professional boxes below.

    Elephant - Professional in the zoo (Greg Vicino), in the wild (Khyne U Mar) and academic (Sarah L. Jacobson and Joshua M. Plotnik)

    Marine mammal – Professional (Sabrina Brando); Academic (Gordon Bauer)

    Primates - Professional (Jim Mackie); Academic (Betsy Herrelko)

    Reptile - Professional (Richard Gibson); Academic (Gordon Burghardt)

    Bird - Professional (Heidi Hellmuth); Academic (Jackie Chappell)

    Fish – Professional (Heather Williams); Academic (Culum Brown)

    C: More than A to B
    Samantha J. Ward

    Chapter 10: Making training educational for zoo visitors
    Katherine Whitehouse-Tedd, Sarah Spooner & Gerard Whitehouse-Tedd

    Chapter 11: Welfare implications of zoo animal training
    Vicky Melfi & Samantha J. Ward

    Chapter 12: Training animals in the wild or so they can return to the wild
    Jonathan Webb

    Chapter 13: Last but in fact most importantly…Health and safety
    Tim Sullivan

    Bigger training consideration boxes

    For some of the topics we felt it might be helpful to provide a box outside to the general text to consider some bigger concepts in animal training. These include ‘training multiple animals’ by Kirstin Anderson-Henson and a concluding positive note on including training within zoo animal management programmes by Gary Priest.


  • Vicky Melfi, PhD, is Professor at Hartpury University, Research Associate at the University of Sydney, and Managing Editor of the Journal of Zoo and Aquaria Research, published by the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria (EAZA).

    Nicole R. Dorey, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Florida, a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) and has actively served as a board member for a number of professional organizations. She also conducts and consults on research and training at zoos.

    Samantha J. Ward, PhD, is a Senior Lecturer in Animal Science at Nottingham Trent University, and is currently on the BIAZA research committee and also sits as the welfare expert on Defra’s Zoo Executive Committee.