GOATS – Presenters

The Global Online Animal Training Summit presenters have been hand selected. We are excited to bring you these experts.


Gerry  Creighton

Gerry Creighton has worked in Dublin Zoo since 1983, starting as a trainee keeper, before becoming a full time zoo keeper in 1986. He subsequently worked as Team Leader responsible for large apes, carnivores and elephants for nearly ten years before becoming Zoo Operations Manager for animals and grounds in 2009. Gerry also holds an advisory role acting as elephant consultant for many international zoos, within Europe, Asia and North America. Gerry’s career has spanned several decades of exciting development, during which time Dublin Zoo has transformed from its Victorian beginnings in 1831 into a modern, vital and progressive European centre for conservation, education and animal husbandry.

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Parvene Farhoody, PhD

Dr. Parvene Farhoody started training animals in 1974 and began training professionally in 1992. Today, she owns and operates Behavior Matters,® Inc., a behavior consulting, training, and education service in New York City that specializes in teaching people to better understand learning principles and how these principles are applied to teach all species—human and nonhuman.

In 2008, Parvene continued to train and teach while earning a doctorate in Learning Processes and Behavior Analysis from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a Master’s in Psychology with a concentration in Animal Behavior and Wildlife Conservation from Hunter College in New York City.

Dr. Farhoody trains animals across species, consults, coaches and designs training programs. Her comprehensive approach to training nonhuman species always includes teaching human caregivers how to work with the animals in their care. The goal is to implement effective and efficient behavior change procedures that go hand in hand with safe and enjoyable learning environments.

She has conducted scientific research on minimally restrictive and least aversive behavioral interventions to reduce inter-dog aggression and published research on the effects of spay/neuter on the aggressive behavior of domestic dogs. She continues to research low-stress behavioral interventions that can improve the lives of human and nonhuman animals.

From 1992 to 1996, Parvene worked extensively with children from Kindergarten through 5th grade in public and private schools in Baltimore, Maryland. She designed and implemented teaching systems that facilitated maximal learning with minimal stress. The curricula were designed to motivate students to learn using the same scientific principles she applies to all training.

Dr. Farhoody shares her passion for the experimental analysis of behavior and its application through her research, writing, and private coaching of professional trainers across disciplines. She also gives lectures, seminars and workshops designed to improve the understanding of scientifically validated learning principles and how to directly apply these principles to any field.  Read more here

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Hillary Hankey

Hillary Hankey’s first interest in animal behavior began with the documentation of the family cat’s daily habits, including hours of cat naps, on her dad’s camcorder as practice for becoming a National Geographic researcher. Her fascination turned to birds when she began accruing her parrots in her childhood bedroom, and has been training birds ever since. Hillary has worked for zoos as an animal trainer and keeper, and in 2010 she started parrot behavior consulting in her free time, a practice designed to help parrot owners utilize positive reinforcement for better relationships. She also volunteered to raise toucans and consulted with wildlife education facilities, working with exotic mammals and reptiles. In 2013, Hillary left the comfort of a predictable paycheck and started Avian Behavior International, a bird training and education organization. With ABI, she has stayed with the Waurá tribe in the backwaters of the Amazon, flown birds through the Rainbow Arch of Lake Powell, produced free flying bird programs for zoological parks, and explored and developed new ways to help others contribute to conserving our planet through avian ambassadors. Through ABI and later, her online membership program the Avian Behavior Lab, she continues to set goals to help animal trainers in a deeper, more meaningful way and be part of progressive movement with high standards of ethical behavior management and the presentation of free-flying birds in educational programs in zoos and similar institutions everywhere.

How Wonderful! I Was Wrong

When Nobel Prize winning behavior economist and psychologist Daniel Kahneman was faced with a paper that showed evidence contradicting his own, he delightedly exclaimed “How wonderful I was wrong,” according to Adam Grant, psychologist at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. “It means I learned something,” Dr. Kahneman later explained, framing information that refutes our own data in this way can enrich our learning trajectory and enhance the welfare of animals and human learners in our peer group. Science is not only self-correcting but supports healthy and robust discussion and experimentation in order to keep moving forward. These last few components are necessary to call our methods evidence-based.

This presentation analyzes several topics over the history of the science of animal training in which we were wonderfully wrong on a larger scale. It will also look at everyday practices that help trainers establish a proper and necessary feedback loop to keep pushing their own practices forward.

Barbara Heidenreich

Barbara Heidenreich is an animal training consultant specializing in exotic animals. She consults worldwide working with zoos, universities, veterinary professionals, and conservation projects. She has worked onsite with over 80 facilities in 27 countries. She is an adjunct instructor at Texas A & M University. She has produced seven DVDs, authored two books, and contributed to four veterinary textbooks. She is a co-author of the Fear Free® Avian Certification Course. Much of her work focuses on training exotic species to cooperate in medical care. She operates the online education program www.AnimalTrainingFundamentals.com. This virtual learning program features award winning courses, tracks to guide professional development, verifiable badges to share and prove course completion, community, and more. Barbara is an advisor for the Animal Training Working Group and the Parrot Taxon Advisory Group for the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums. She has provided her expertise to conservation projects The Kakapo Recovery Program and The Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation. She has a Bachelor of Science in zoology and is currently earning a Master of Science in applied behavior analysis. Her goal is to leave behind a legacy of kindness to animals by sharing her expertise.

The Secret in the Animal Training Industry

Animal trainers are very concerned with animal welfare. But what about the welfare of animal trainers? Many trainers have been silently struggling as the victims of a very confusing type of abusive behavior administered by those who profess loudly to be the defenders of kindness to animals. Unfortunately, we live in societies in which narcissistic behavior is heavily reinforced. This pervasive class of behaviors has left no industry untouched, including animal training.  In the United States it is estimated one in two hundred people are identified as displaying narcissistic personality disorder (AKA narcissism). With such statistics, could you personally be the victim of a narcissist? If you are not a victim, could you be unintentionally helping a narcissist hurt others or push an agenda that harms the animal training industry? Answering these questions first requires animal trainers learn how to recognize narcissistic behavior. This can help provide clarity regarding why those who abuse others select their victims, and then relentlessly persist. Those labeled narcissistic also masterfully manipulate other people to become allies of their agendas, which adds to the challenge for both victims and the industry. Ultimately these “narcissistic” individuals have a tremendous impact on the animal training industry, its policies, its approach to animal training, and animal welfare. This presentation will take a behavior analytic approach to help trainers learn to recognize and demystify narcissistic behavior, identify ways it is impacting the lives of all professional animal trainers, grasp the significant fallout of allowing narcissistic behavior to go unchecked, and how to stand up for what is right for the animal training industry, even if you are a victim being pressured to be silent, or think you may be being manipulated by a narcissist. Most importantly you will learn tangible things you can do to support much needed change in the industry. History has demonstrated narcissistic behavior can be stopped when we acknowledge it, and collectively act. The victims, the industry, and animal welfare are relying on the entire community to address this well-kept secret in the animal training industry.

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Jim Mackie

Jim’s has worked at The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) for 22 years becoming the first Animal Training and Behaviour Officer in 2013. Jim is now part of the evidence-based animal care team (EAC), which incorporates zoo research, animal welfare and diet management.

Jim has overseen a shift in animal management whereby science-based training techniques have largely replaced traditional husbandry methods such as restraint during medical and husbandry procedures. In 2015 ZSL was the recipient of a British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquaria (BIAZA) gold award for establishing a coherent, collection wide animal training programme for enhanced welfare.

Jim helped form the BIAZA Animal Behaviour and Training Working Group, which he co-chairs, is vice chair of the EAZA Training Working Group, and is an EAZA Academy instructor specialising in the use of trained behaviour to maximise welfare potential in zoos and aquaria.

Jim regularly lectures, presents and provides workshops about zoo animal behaviour and training both at home and abroad.    

Money Talks! – The Economic Value of Zoo Animal Training

There is an increasing amount of evidence to demonstrate that science-based training has direct benefits to animals. We know that all animal training should provide a net welfare benefit to the individual, but there are other, secondary reasons to train animals. These include education programs, human health and safety and conservation research. But have you ever considered that training your animals could save your zoo money? Or even provide income and free publicity?

Using many examples from ZSL’s extensive portfolio of training programs, the presentation will take an in depth look at how training can: save medical care costs by replacing anesthesia or reducing the amount of anesthetic drugs; provide income streams for commercial events such as VIP experiences and PR; minimize the staff resources needed for tasks such as internal animal moves and exports.

We should not need to justify the use of animal training in our zoos by identifying financial benefits - the welfare impacts should be enough - but it can be useful when seeking support to establish a new training program at your zoo.

Annette Pedersen

Annette Pedersen started working in Copenhagen Zoo in 1989 as a part of the Danish keepers’ education. After finishing her education in 1992, she was hired for the marine mammal section (harbor seals and California sea lions), which also housed other animals like penguins, Malayan tapirs, barbirusa, etc. Here she helped developing the marine mammal training program until 2008, where she moved to the elephant section working on transferring the elephants from free contact to protected contact (PC). Later that same year she was given the position as Animal Training Coordinator of Copenhagen Zoo. Since 2008 her job has been to develop/expand the training skills of the keepers at Copenhagen Zoo, as well as managing animal behavior and training within a variety of species and challenges. Since 2009 she has helped develop the Danish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (DAZA) animal training course, which is still held once a year in Denmark. She serves the European Association of Zoos and Aquariums (EAZA) as Chair for the Animal Training Working Group and as member of the Animal Welfare Working group. She is also an instructor for the EAZA animal training courses under the EAZA Academy. 2014-2016 she served on the board of the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA.)

When There's No Way? Take the High Way! Equipment Ideas, Creative Solutions, and Collaborations to Help You Accomplish Your Training Goals

In an ideal world we have all the skills, time, staff, facility design, etc. to attain the perfect result from our training. In the real world, the conditions may be a bit different. How can we train a group of animals if the enclosure design makes stationing or separation close to impossible? How can we get a previously untrained lion to participate in a voluntary injection when we only have a few days before the animal needs to be anesthetized for transportation? What might be possible when trainers and veterinarians combine their knowledge on training and medical supplies? In this presentation I will share how creative setups, different equipment, new technologies, and knowledge from other fields of expertise can help you reach your training goals!


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