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Episode - 27 April, 2021
Host: Barbara Heidenreich
Guests: Andy Ferris and Maggie Gonio
Working with marine mammals is often identified as the dream job for many pursuing a career in animal training. Although I personally went a different direction to learn about training, I have had a number of good friends gain their training chops working with marine mammals. My guests in this episode are colleagues from my early days in the zoological field who became seasoned pros working with a variety of marine mammal species as well as many other animals. Andy Ferris and Maggie Gonio give us insights into the differences of working with species typically seen in managed care, share some fascinating behaviors trained with marine mammals, surprise us with marine mammal ingenuity and most importantly provide advice for those interested in becoming a marine mammal trainer. We cover much more, including tips for getting fish smell off of your hands! Visit the episode web page for additional resources on marine mammal training.
Andy Ferris has worked at a major metropolitan Zoo for over 25 years. Most of that time has been spent working with and training animals in the Marine Mammal department. Andy started as an intern in the Children’s Zoo area where he got hooked on “training animals with positive reinforcement." From there he moved to the Marine Mammal department working with Bottlenose dolphins, California sea lions, Harbor seals, Grey seals, and walrus. He has also worked in many other departments working with primates, small carnivores, birds, reptiles, and a host of other animals too many to mention.
I started as a Keeper at a major metropolitan zoo, where I was fortunate to work with a variety of teams and species. These included everything from feathered and furred to meat-eaters and leaf-eaters, and terrestrial to aquatic. Working for a Canine Training Company, I volunteered at a shelter providing training to adopted animals and families. After about 17 years, I moved into behavior consulting for Zoos and Aquariums, opening new exhibits, forming teams, and developing guest and animal experiences. My last decade has been spent at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Disney Cruise Line living in the Bahamas, managing Animal Programs on Castaway Cay. I love to travel and have been so lucky to have enjoyed trips to many beautiful landscapes and amazing cultures. I have enjoyed Dog Sledding, SCUBA diving, parasailing, white water rafting, black water tubing (caves), and am typically ready to take on new adventures.
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