Show cover of Zoo Logic

Zoo Logic

Zoo Logic with animal trainer, zoo advocate, and ZOOmility author, Dr. Grey Stafford, is a weekly conversation with zoo, aquarium, and animal experts about Nature, wildlife, pets, animal training with positive reinforcement, health and welfare, research, conservation, and education, sustainability, zoo politics, activism and legislation, and all things animals! On Zoo Logic, we’ll go behind the scenes with animal professionals and influencers from around the world to explore the latest Zoos News and issues affecting wildlife, wild places, and people. Communicating with humor, cool stories, and candor, we’ll discover the interdependent connection between civilization, conservation, and commerce.


How to Win Celebrity Friends and Influence Hollywood
Best selling author, Emmy winning actor, and fierce animal advocate, Carolyn Hennesy returns to discuss her recent comments at the annual meeting of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums (AMMPA) about how zoos and aquariums can begin to build better relationships with entertainers and influencers. In many instances, entertainers and those who work behind the camera inside the film and television industry have to be concerned about what supporting modern zoos and aquariums may do to their careers and future employment prospects. Carolyn encourages us to be persistent, inviting, and accommodating to those we wish to recruit into helping educate the world, including our detractors, about the important work of conservation we do. Animal care Software
33:42 6/20/24
Are Zoos Still in the Conservation Business?
Long time zoological statistician and animal manager, Kevin Willis, returns to discuss dolphin demographics and other mathematical insights into current species populations in human care. The overall population of dolphins in facilities looks promising, but Kevin warns this view is not reality since the animals are not actually maintained as one but several small islands of sub-populations that are not at all sustainable as currently managed. He also argues that zoos and aquariums are in the midst of change from the Noah's Ark conservation model of the 1980s and its SSP's (Species Survival Plans) designed to one day re-populate wild habitats, once humans get their act together, to something as yet still evolving. In fact, the number of managed species has been greatly reduced and the word conservation no longer appears in the description of SSP's on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) website. When asked what the math tells him about the future of species and genetic diversity of both plants and animals in zoos and aquariums and the wild, he shares that we as a community have some tough choices ahead about what species can and should be prioritized for preservation. Animal Care Software
30:36 6/13/24
The team from GRAZE (Growing Resiliency for Aquarium and Zoo Employees) Erin McNally and Hannah Fullmer return to discuss a widespread problem in most fields, including the zoological profession. While not unique to animal facilities, bullying takes a tremendous toll on an already beleaguered workforce. If social media content is to be believed, younger professionals seem increasingly disillusioned while senior staff are leaving the field from burnout. Erin and Hannah describe ways to think about and address bullying, as well as, urge individuals to develop coping strategies to improve workplace culture and not to run from the issues. It's a difficult but necessary conversation for individuals and organizations to have in order to build trust and retain experienced staff within an organization. Animal Care Software
39:52 6/6/24
Saving and Enriching Lives Through Scent Work
Long time animal trainer and consultant, Jade Fountain from Animal Behavior Matters returns to discuss her latest work in East Africa with a global organization called APOPO (Anti-Persoonsmijnen Ontmijnende Product Ontwikkeling”, or in English, Anti-Personnel Landmines Detection Product Development. For the past 25 years, APOPO has been utilizing African Pouched Rats trained for scent detection to locate landmines in war torn countries such as Cambodia.  As a result of their work and the astonishing olfactory abilities of these rats, hundreds of thousands of square meters of land have been rendered safe for people to return to farm and to build new lives. More than 160,000 landmines have been detected and destroyed. Remarkably, no rat has ever perished from mine detection work. Jade describes the training of these special animals and their unique characteristics that make them ideal for use in mine detection, but also wildlife trafficking and identifying positive tuberculosis samples. She also shares some of her doctoral work and how she hopes to validate anecdotal evidence that scent work in dogs has physiological and behavioral benefits. Animal Care Software
33:33 5/30/24
Latest Avian Flu Strain Poses Lethal Risk to Marine Mammals
Dr. Jay Sweeney, cofounder of Dolphin Quest, returns to discuss the latest strain of avian flu making its way across the globe with lethal effects. It was an avian flu strain that caused the global pandemic in 1918 that killed tens of millions of humans. The current strain H5N5 seems to be mild in infected dairy cows and humans but it has caused thousands of pinniped and a handful of dolphin deaths over the past few seasons as migratory birds move up and down coastlines of North and South America. The strain has already impacted millions of birds on poultry farms and Dr. Sweeney urges zoological facilities to remain vigilant to protect heir avian and marine mammal collections. Animal Care Software 
16:39 5/23/24
Mission Driven Research
Dr. Terrie Williams, long time UC Santa Cruz wildlife researcher interested in species energetics returns to discuss the race against geometric levels of extinction. We are losing species at pace well above the normal background rates. Her mission is to gather basic bioenergetic data to help inform regulators, lawmakers, and industry about the potential harmful effects from undersea noise pollution, climate change, over fishing, and more. Importantly, she celebrates the role of today's modern zoos and aquariums and the training professionals that make her data collection possible in situ and ex situ. Animal Care Software
13:50 5/16/24
Efficacy and Ethics of Using Hormones to Modify Behavior
Following a recent industry webinar, we asked ethicist, Dr. Raymond Anthony and veterinarian and researcher, Dr. Dave Miller to weigh in on the subject of using hormone therapy to curb aggressive behavior in managed settings. Under what conditions and to what extent is modifying animal behavior through pharmacology, specifically hormones or their synthetic analogs, an acceptable practice?  Is there an ethical difference between acute and chronic use, especially when the drug in question is used "off label" or may not have been studied in the species for which its use is intended? Importantly, what sort of ethical framework should facilities employ before this approach to managing animal behavior, social well-being, reproduction or long term contraception is utilized? Animal Care Software
34:19 5/9/24
Zoological Association of America's New Leader
Before she accepted the role of executive director of the Zoological Association of America in 2023, Dr. Kelly George was a researcher with Ohio State University studying human-animal relationships with an emphasis on welfare and behavior. Today she leads the young but growing trade association focused on improving standards of husbandry care, educating the public, and promoting greater conservation efforts for species in human care and in the wild. She describes her first year, where the association is now, where she thinks it is headed, and why it is important for the organization to tell its own narrative. Animal Care Software
39:12 5/2/24
Impoverished vs. Cognitively Challenging Environments
As director of research for the Dolphin Research Center, Dr. Kelly Jaakkola spends much of her time studying the cognitive abilities of bottlenose dolphins, as well as, refuting the false or unsubstantiated narratives stemming from all places, recent peer-reviewed publications by authors opposed to marine mammals in human care. One of two of her recent publications examines whether these small cetaceans in human care live in "impoverished" environments. Spoiler alert, they don't. However, Kelly argues in a separate paper that this low bar of animal welfare can and should be raised to include beneficial cognitive challenges that enable animals in zoological facilities, not just dolphins, to thrive when we humans have met most of their physical needs. Animal Care Software
35:11 4/25/24
Training Crocs!
Before she became an expert avian trainer with Natural Encounters, Ari Bailey got her start working with crocodilian species at a time when aversives and physical restraint were still commonly in use. Fortunately, the state of animal training for crocodilians and other ectothermic species has since advanced; in many ways, the same sort of husbandry behaviors commonly seen with mammals and birds can also be seen with reptiles at modern zoological facilities. However, while the principles of operant conditioning used with crocs are the same as with other species, their unique physiology and natural history does influence how modern behavioral science methods are applied. Ari discusses these and other details from training material she's written for professional coursework on crocodilians. Animal Care Software
36:16 4/18/24
Our Kindred Creatures: How Americans Came to Feel the Way They Do About Animals
The post Civil War era gave rise to unprecedented social changes. The energy and activism directed at ending the scourge of slavery found new life in improving the welfare of animals, particularly those species in American homes, industry, entertainment, and on the dinner plate. Authors, Bill Wasik and Monica Murphy, DVM have written their second book together (Knopf, 4/23) examining the extraordinary animal welfare movement that emerged during the latter third of the 19th century. Readers of Our Kindred Creatures are "introduced to the activists, scientists, and moguls who helped create our modern views on animals, with our intense compassion for certain species and ignorant disregard for others."  Not surprisingly, this same movement was intertwined with the public's burgeoning interest in conservation as rampant species and habitat loss was unfolding. Animal Care Software
37:48 4/11/24
Revisiting Negative Reinforcement with Ken Ramirez
On a recent visit to a zoological facility, their senior animal manager asked about my current views on the use of negative reinforcement given past treatment of the subject in my book ZOOmility going back to the mid 2000's, when I largely discouraged trainers from using the training tool. So we thought it might be time to take another look at that behavioral tool to better understand if, when or with what species it is ever appropriate to use negative reinforcement since it requires the presence and subsequent removal of aversive stimuli. We asked well known animal trainer and Clicker Training's Executive Vice President and Chief Training Officer, Ken Ramirez, to weigh in on the subject and share his thoughts and cautions on negative reinforcement. Animal Care Software
36:31 4/4/24
Boldly Go
What is the secret to longevity and relevance in any career path?  While the answer may vary among differing professions, one ingredient seems to be a willingness to "apply the joy of exploration to our own lives," according to actor, director, best selling author, musician, and real life space traveler, William Shatner. In 2022, Shatner now 93, best known for his iconic role on Star Trek as Captain James T. Kirk, wrote Boldly Go with coauthor, writer and director Joshua Brandon. The book is a series of reflections and insights stemming from personal triumphs and tragedies and a career spanning eight decades. We talk with Josh about what it was like to meet and later collaborate with the iconic entertainer and what advice he has to share for those pursuing their dream in a highly competitive field like television and film or... zookeeping. Animal Care Software
35:29 3/28/24
Caring for Military Working Dogs After Their Service
It would likely surprise most people that until about a decade ago, military service dogs were routinely euthanized at the end of their working service life rather than be transported back to the U.S. and a life of retirement. Congress and the Department of Defense finally provided some resources to ensure military working dogs are returned to U.S. soil at the completion of their service. These funds do not cover all transport costs and there are currently no funds to help these animals deal with the impact of physical and psychological trauma or illness when their military careers are completed. The situation is even more dire for the much larger group of trained service dogs used by private military contractors for whom there is no funding for return transport or even guaranteed feeding and medical treatment. Mission K9 Rescue co-founder Bob Bryant returns to discuss a bill pending in Congress to provide grant funding in support of military working dog medical care throughout their lives. Animal Care Software
21:07 3/21/24
Uncompromising Animal Ambassador Welfare
Recently, the open access scientific journal Animals published a special issue entitled: Zoo and Aquarium Welfare, Ethics, Behavior.  Many of the peer-reviewed papers within this special issue focus on and in some instances call for improvements to animal welfare assessment, husbandry, training, housing, and overall management. The goal of the invited editors, which includes the host of Zoo Logic, was to highlight advances and current best practices across a range of species, and to inspire further progress, while also addressing public perceptions and expectations of zoos and aquariums. One such paper, "A Reexamination of the Relationship between Training Practices and Welfare in the Management of Ambassador Animals," by lead author, and long time trainer and founder of Natural Encounters, Steve Martin and veterinarian and researcher, Dave Miller (and yours truly) examines the history and current state of ambassador animal welfare and the need for choosing the right species and individual animals for such programs (and avoiding the wrong ones). The authors make no secret that animal ambassador welfare has generally not kept pace with other advancements in zoo animal well being. It is vital that zoological facilities devote the necessary resources in terms of time, money, animal selection, and staff training to properly handle and ensure the best welfare outcomes for these animals with a unique role. Animal Care Software    
36:34 3/14/24
Secrets of the Octopus
A prolific naturalist, award-winning and bestselling author Sy Montgomery and her colleague, Warren Carlyle founder of Octonation, the largest octopus fan club in the world, have a new release entitled Secrets of the Octopus. This book is a follow up to Sy's scientific treatment of the species in 2015's bestseller, Soul of the Octopus. Warren and Sy's passion for this unique species is unmistakable. Both share their journey learning about and promoting further study and preservation of these animals beginning with their very personal encounters with an octopus at an aquarium. The new title comes in advance of a mini series of the same name produced by James Cameron and narrated by actor Paul Rudd scheduled to air on National Geographic on Earth Day. Both Sy and Warren are contributors to the docu-series and believe zoos and aquariums play a vital role in conservation and research. Animal Care Software
36:55 3/7/24
Disaster Planning
The Executive Director of Zoological Disaster Response, Rescue, and Recovery (ZDR3), Julia Matson Wagner, returns on the eve of this coming season for natural disasters such as wildfires, floods, and hurricanes. After several years focusing on providing immediate disaster response and support for affected zoological facilities, ZDR3 has grown in scope in terms of the number of participating facilities and expanded educational outreach. In just a few years, ZDR3's growing response network has more than 170 member facilities in 36 states. Julia describes how important disaster planning and drills along with having frank conversations about individual facility risks are before they are ever needed.  Animal Care Software
30:08 2/29/24
Tequila Corrido
After years of working with some of the world's top tequila brands, particularly on the elimination of production waste water, retired police officer Tony Boyle and his news anchor spouse, Olivia Fierro have embarked on a new venture producing Tequila Corrido. The relaunch of the award-winning spirit rests on the principles of sustainability and paying homage to tradition. From harvesting the hundreds of thousands of blue agave plants each year from local farms in the highlands of the Jalisco region of Mexico, featuring the skills of a well-known master distiller in Mexico respected for her knowledge of the agave to bottling in recycled glass--nearly every aspect of production is sourced in Mexico. According to their website, the name Corrido comes from the poetic ballads sung by smugglers who risked everything to peddle tequila in Prohibition-era border regions. Many of the early corridos celebrated these border bandits and folk heroes—telling tales of triumph and tragedies along trails and around campfires.  To celebrate these folk songs and traditional methods of producing tequila, each bottle of Tequila Corrido ships with a guitar pic. Animal Care Software  
34:20 2/22/24
My One-Eyed, Three-Legged Therapist
Kathy Finley found herself bullied as a child but she drew comfort, confidence, and courage from the pets she loved so well, especially her cats. She thought of her animals as the source of her superpower to make friends which helped build up her self-esteem. That is, until later in life she allowed an abusive husband to remove animals from her home life and thereby, sapping her confidence and feelings of self-worth. It was the gift of a shelter kitten by coworkers that changed everything following a bitter divorce. Today, she is happily remarried, retired, and is a published author of My One-Eyed, Three-Legged Therapist thanks in very large part to an independent and "self-proclaimed queen of the universe" cat named Clio who Kathy claims saved her even as they both experienced challenges and setbacks. Animal care Software
36:25 2/15/24
Conservation Math
Kevin Willis has served the zoological community for decades in a variety of posts, including time with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, as one of our most important statisticians. His work is documented in peer-reviewed publications and essays across a multitude of terrestrial and aquatic species, from elephants to orcas. His greatest skill seems to be explaining and applying statistical principles to complex conservation questions in a manner the rest of us can easily grasp. He describes some of the history, key figures, and rationale behind the formation of Species Survival Programs (SSP), their original purpose, and where conservation biology and statistics stand today.  Animal Care Software
36:58 2/8/24
The Cetacean Sanctuary: A Sea of Unknowns
The journal, Animals, has published a special issue that includes overviews and original research papers that rigorously assess zoo and aquarium behavior, welfare and ethics. One of the papers, The Cetacean Sanctuary: A Sea of Unknowns is written by frequent Zoo Logic guest, Dr. Jason Bruck and concerns the elusive cetacean sanctuary standards put forth by the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries (GFAS). Jason methodically asks questions about important aspects of animal welfare arising from these standards, which point to no supportive peer-reviewed citations or a history of best practices as seen in other zoological welfare and husbandry standards such as the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums or the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. In the final analysis, it is difficult to reconcile the stated top priority of sanctuary proponents, maximizing animal welfare, with the more likely motivation, the end of cetaceans in managed care. Animal Care Software
40:02 2/1/24
International Elephant Foundation
The International Elephant Foundation turns 25 this year and the conservation organization continues to break new ground in preserving the world's largest land mammal. Conservation Coordinator, Sarah Conley describes the three species of elephants and the unique challenges to their respective survival. From working with local communities to support the work of game rangers, supporting research for the study and prevention of deadly EEHV to piloting the training and use of feral dogs as detection and protection canines, IEF excels at reducing overhead expenses and thus, maximizing the effectiveness of donations in the field where they can do the most good to help animals and humans successfully co-exist. Animal Care Software
37:32 1/25/24
Dolphin Research Center Turns 40
According to its website, the Dolphin Research Center promotes peaceful coexistence, cooperation and communication between marine mammals, humans and the environment. They achieve this through education, research and rescue. Home to generations of bottlenose dolphins as well as California sea lions, the DRC is uniquely situated to study cognition, behavior and husbandry. DRC president and CEO Rita Irwin and Director of Research, Dr. Kelly Jaakkola discuss 40 years of scientific investigations and the future of marine mammals in human care. Animal Care Software
36:58 1/18/24
Episode 300: A Head Full of Hope
A fun day of snowboarding for 18-year-old Forrest Allen ended in a life-threatening traumatic brain injury, which forever altered his life and that of his family and friends. Neurologists told his well-known parents, veterinarians, Kent Allen and Rae Stone, cofounder of Dolphin Quest, that he would likely not survive the night. Despite that dire warning, Forrest did indeed survive but not without surgeons having to remove 1/3 of his skull which resulted in its own set of complications and life threats. Throughout years of surgeries, setbacks, and rehabilitation therapies the family has been open about the highs and frightening lows of their journey including the vital role of supportive friends and colleagues within the zoological community, music therapy, and a wonderful service dog that helped Forrest regain his speech. Much of Forrest's recovery through music was documented in the 2020 award winning film "Music Got Me Here." Now, at 31, Forrest is rebuilding his life working summers with the Dolphin Quest teams, getting his driver's license, and serving as an inspiration to other families with loved ones experiencing terrible, debilitating brain injuries. Animal Care Software
32:41 1/11/24
Planning Your First Safari
Many people dream of going on safari. Given the distance, time, and expense involved it is important to research and understand what options, locations, and experiences are most important to you and your travel companions. We talk with one expat with nearly 20 years of experience living abroad, combined with dozens of safaris to well known and more remote locations in east Africa for her suggestions on building that trip of a lifetime. Animal care Software
23:44 1/4/24
The Legacy of SeaWorld of Ohio
As 2023 draws to a close and Zoo Logic approaches its 300th episode, we look back at a remarkable institution that launched or strengthened the careers of many zoological professionals and leaders still very active today. In 1970, the second SeaWorld park opened in a most unlikely place, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio on the shores of Geauga Lake. The purpose of building an inland marine animal park in the Midwest was to draw upon a radius of huge population centers located within about a 6-hour drive of the location. Sadly, the park could never escape the realities of a seasonal park in a region prone to spectacular winter weather. However, despite its brief 30-year history, the blue collar zoological park left an indelible mark on the community and the professionals that passed through her gates. Some of those that knew her well discuss the unique park and the lessons learned while working there. Animal Care Software
71:28 12/28/23
Veterinary Sustainability
KVP is one of the largest veterinary product manufacturers and distributors in the U.S. In their quarterly newsletter called the Bowman Report, the company describes the growing push by veterinarians and their customers towards more sustainably sourced materials and manufactured veterinary products, especially high use plastic products like nitrile gloves, pill bottles, and Elizabethan collars. VP of Marketing Will Schwing, discusses why customers are willing to spend on more sustainable products, the improved efficacy of such biodegradable products, and tips for those hoping to increase sustainable business practices at their own workplace. Animal Care Software  
29:38 12/21/23
Capitalism AND Conservation
Recently, Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park welcomed the birth of a female white rhino. This was no ordinary or overnight conservation success story according to its president, Kristy Hayden. The process began nearly 10-years ago with a significant financial commitment of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the forty-year-old, for-profit organization to acquire and import 3 unrelated females from South Africa. After the animals were identified and their protection and care secured while awaiting permitting and transport, the project was met with extended delays by USFWS. These necessitated finding 3 younger animals suitable in size for transport, the need to build a new expansive rhino habitat and barn, and eventually, once they arrived, time to reach reproductive maturity. The goal by the late owner and director, Mickey Ollson, was to help improve the genetics of the North American population as part of ensuring survival of the species, even as poaching and habitat loss issues are hopefully resolved throughout the African continent in the future.  Animal Care Software
27:58 12/14/23
Errorless Learning
A recent peer-reviewed paper discussed the concept and procedure known as errorless learning and compares its efficacy training dogs to that of the more typical trial-and-error approach to learning. One of the authors of the paper: Comparing Trial-and-Error to Errorless Learning Procedures in Training Pet Dogs a Visual Discrimination, Dr. Eduardo "Eddie" Fernandez discusses the process and its favorable impact on the subjects' frustration, behavior acquisition rate, and failure compared to trial and error learning.  The goal is to uncover ways to minimize any harmful effects on animal welfare during the learning process. Animal Care Software  
52:49 12/7/23
A Conversation About Mental Health and Grief with GRAZE
Several years ago, a few zoo professionals recognized the growing need for better access to mental health resources for their peers.  Together they formed Growing Resiliency for Aquarium and Zoo Employees or GRAZE for the purpose of "bringing mental health support to those in the zoo and aquarium industry by raising awareness, sharing ideas, resources, and tools." The GRAZE team of Erin McNally, LVT; Shannon McKinney & Hannah Fullmer discuss the nature of grief and how their company helps zoo professionals at all levels by providing Proactive Programing, Support Services, and Critical Incident Response. According to the GRAZE team, the key to coping with grief that comes with loss is a willingness to make oneself vulnerable--an animal caretaker trait that has historically been discouraged. Animal Care Software
37:26 11/30/23

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