ANATOMY AND SENSES The anatomy and senses of a variety of animals housed on site are explored as it relates to their health and welfare. This study includes, but is not limited to, vision, hearing, smell, tongue and taste, tactile inputs and pelage. The observation of the different species is applied throughout the program from birth or acquisition of the animal, during daily interaction or husbandry, during veterinary procedures, and, when available, post mortem.
BEHAVIOR AND COMMUNICATION Vocal and non-vocal behavior and communication including body posture, scent marking, conspecific communication, stimulus relationship, positive and negative behaviors, and keeper behavior or interaction as it relates to animal communication are the emphasis of this class. Concurrent observations are discussed.
ENRICHMENT Discussion includes both behavioral and environmental enrichment, the positive and the negative aspects of each. During the lecture/workshop/training, all relative aspects of enrichment are explored concerning natural or artificial enrichment, thinking through what you are offering the animal and why, the possible health consequences, activity period, possessive aggression as it relates to other animals in the exhibit or surrounding area, public appearance, and cleanup. The implementation of enrichment is an ongoing part of this study.
ENVIROMENTAL EDUCATION This area includes the many ways to educate the public, from toddlers to senior citizens, concerning zoo animals, their environments in captivity and the wild, and the relationships, concerns and concepts that the public will take away from the educational experience. Helpful instruction is given concerning large tours and educational expectations.
EVOLUTION AND TAXONOMY This interactive class, including a hands-on session(s), discovers the development of the feline skull structure from the Smilodon fatalis to modern felines. In depth discussion compares the difference of brain size, jaw structure, dentition, and skeletal structure including vertebrae and limbs.
EXHIBIT CONSTRUCTION AND MAINTENANCE The basics of exhibit design are discussed including budget, space requirements, construction materials, substrate, shelter and/or housing, furniture, water features, bedding and off exhibit areas. All students are required to participate in the construction of an exhibit while attending the school. Depending on the time(s) of year this subject is taught, immediate participation is often necessary, or if taught in the middle of winter, practical use of this class is delayed until warmer weather. The proper use of power tools is taught on an as needed basis.
FIELD RESEARCH This presentation covers current projects in the field of animal care including, but not limited to, in-situ and ex-situ conservation research. This class is often taught by a guest speaker or speakers with expertise in a particular field of research as it relates to the program.
GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT Instruction is dedicated to neonatal care protocols including parturition and maternal behavior, guidelines for selected hand rearing; exhibit, environmental and social factors; neonatal and maternal problems; conditioning and preventive medicine; hand-rearing philosophy; maternal and neonatal examinations; nursery husbandry; emergency care and medical problems; vaccinations; nursery procedures; housing and record keeping; feeding; sanitation; handling and future problems of hand reared animals.
HANDLING AND TRAINING FOR FILM AND TELEVISION A general overview of how animals are trained, the time and dedication required, insurance, travel time, housing, permits, regulatory agencies, fees, contracts and payment, animal stress related behaviors, uncooperative talent, producers or directors, and the need to put the animal’s welfare first are explored. The expectations concerning animals and keepers/handlers with on site film crews are instructed when there is a current opportunity or it is relevant.
HUSBANDRY AND MANAGEMENT This subject is covered weekly and involves instruction on the daily husbandry and management of the animals at the zoo to be put into practical use. New animals, new exhibits, changes in weather and environments, births and deaths, and health concerns are just a few of the items discussed as conditions constantly change. Meetings are held to inform the students of any issues or changes in that day’s, or future, animal husbandry or management.
JOB SEARCH AND PRESENTATION This subject is a comprehensive review of what employers are looking for including dedication, work ethic, animal knowledge, adherence to zoo protocol, safety requirements and a positive attitude. It’s not whom you know, but what you do that makes you a good employee. With potential employers facing a sea of resumes for a job opening, this class teaches that the biggest challenges when seeking employment is how to make your resume attract attention, be informative, intelligent, and to the point. Research of the potential facility and the format of a cover letter are also discussed.
LEASH TRAINING - FELINE Protected and/or free contact, basic reinforcement training, “force creates force”, preparation of the animal, handler, back-up, site and guests, related tools or props, commonly used commands, follow through, and record keeping are discussed. This class and the implementation of skills taught fluctuate with the current collection and/or relevant animals available for training. Whenever it is possible, hands-on training of a feline is included in this study, but is not guaranteed due to the nature of the “beast” and current regulations or protocol, and student’s level of advancement. Practical skills taught can be transferred to many other mammals including canines and hoof stock for development and practice.
NUTRITION AND FOOD PREPARATION The current protocol for diet preparation and delivery is covered including sanitation, safety, food storage, and USDA expectations and regulations. The proper use of supplements, the nutrition composition of food fed, including how and why, record keeping, and how consumption relates to fecal matter are also instructed. Necessary changes in daily nutrition and food preparation as they relate to a particular animal are updated and discussed frequently.
OPERANT CONDITIONING This instruction includes, but is not limited to, types of learning, reinforcement and motivation, species specific constraints on learning, critical or sensitive periods, husbandry training procedures, training of elephants and marine mammals, how to train or condition a mammal, species differences in effective training and reinforcement, the how and why of behavioral engineering in zoos, and animal demonstrations. An interactive “clicker” training workshop and demonstration or instructional video(s) are an extension of this class.
OUTREACH PROGRAMS The lecture includes many scenarios involving outreach and educational programs. Subjects covered include booking, arrival time, set-up, subject matter, animals and keepers, safety, displays, hands-on items, attention spans, hand-outs, questions and answers, if and when to allow animal contact, and payment. A workshop to structure and design an outreach or educational program enhances the student’s ability to think through an education based program.
PUBLIC RELATIONS Instruction covers proper business protocol and common sense as it relates to the public relations of a zoological park. Emphasis is placed on personal appearance, cleanliness and maintenance of the grounds, first impressions, managing the ticket booth and gift shop, how to do an educational tour, proper language use, and other aspects of a good public image. Zoo protocol for public related emergency situations or disgruntled guests is also covered.
RECORD KEEPING AND EVALUATION The importance of accurate and legible record keeping is the emphasis of this class. Discussion includes, but is not limited to, daily health records, medications administered, behavioral observations, dietary records, medical observations, animal enrichment, incident reports, and inventory. Also covered is how to use these records as an evaluation tool as it relates to the daily care of the animals.
REHABILITATION AND RELEASE Cat Tales is a licensed rehabilitation facility for the State of Washington. Discussed are the rules and regulations regarding licensing, the care, feeding, and handling of orphaned wildlife, the high mortality rate, quarantine, release sights, funding, staffing, and veterinary requirements. This class is often based on animals currently housed for rehabilitation and the format may change due to updated regulations. When time permits, current rescue and/or relocation of an animal or animals that the zoo is involved with are covered.
VETERINARY SCIENCE - FELINE When veterinarians need to work with exotic animals the role of the keeper is to inform the veterinarian of health and behavior issues, medications and their administration. Most importantly, the role of the keeper is to protect the safety of the veterinarian. Keepers are the link between the animal and the veterinarian as they are familiar with the animal and it’s behaviors or history. Also covered in this class is the set up of necessary equipment, securing of the animal, proper record keeping of the procedure, medications given, vital signs, and follow through observations after sedation and recovery. During the course of the program this class may be reinforced or put into practical use due to a veterinary procedure that involves an animal on site. Information is also given concerning medication administration as it pertains to the animals in the current collection.
ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS The ethical and welfare issues associated with keeping wild animals in captivity are incorporated in a discussion. The history of Zoological Parks, current missions of zoos as they relate to exhibits, education and conservation, and the costs and benefits as they relate to animal welfare is covered. When available, guest speakers will share personal information concerning facilities with which they are associated.
ZOO REGULATIONS General USDA regulations are discussed with specifics to the animals on site. A detailed question and answer sheet is part of the workshop, as is a zoo walk through in teams to look for any items that could be in violation of USDA standards. The goal of the walk through is to inspire the students to be knowledgeable concerning acceptable and possible non-acceptable responsibilities in the care of the animals and related regulations.
ZOO SCIENCE This instruction covers the implementation of observations, descriptions, identification and corresponding discussions of natural phenomena including extraordinary things, occurrences, or persons as they relate to animal care in a zoological setting. The subjects explored range from birth, sudden illness, death, weather, natural and human caused disasters, non-typical animal behavior, climate and seasons, unexplained or unknown animal history or behavior, to keeper influenced behaviors. This is an ongoing discussion as we prepare for the unknown or debrief on a situation or occurrence.
We Would Love to Have You Visit Soon!
Summer Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 5 pm Closed Mondays Winter* Tuesday - Sunday: 10 am - 4 pm * Call ahead for changes Closed Mondays