2.7 Training

Animal training is an important part of the daily routine and management of zoo animals and can have several goals, and a positive impact on an animal’s welfare. Animals can be trained for husbandry issues like blood sampling, for enrichment or for educational demonstrations. It is important for zookeepers to know the basic principles of training and the purpose it serves in zoos. In all cases the trainer knows the basics and the do’s and don’ts of training.

  • Training Basics: zookeepers are aware of the do’s and don’ts and the basics of animal training and can use the universal terms in a professional way while avoiding anthropomorphism. Zookeeper are aware of their important role as a zookeeper and trainer.
  • Training Methods and Techniques: zookeepers can describe and use different methods and techniques such as operant and classical conditioning, positive reinforcement, bridging stimulus, shaping.
  • Training Programme: zookeepers can work according to the training programme.
Zookeepers working at Competent level can: Zookeepers working at Proficient level can: Zookeepers working at Expert level can:
2.7.1 Training Basics Summarise the importance of training
Define the basic principles of training
State what to do and what not to do in their daily routine, to minimize the impact on the training progress of the animal
Summarise the importance of training regarding to animal welfare and apply the basics of training in their daily routine Monitor the progress of the training and adjust the training programme where needed
Provide guidance to other colleagues and team members
2.7.2 Training Methods and Techniques Describe several simple training methods
Explain why positive reinforcement should be the standard in every zoo
Describe the consequences of incorrect training
Train animals using tried and tested positive reinforcement-based techniques in simple situations (e.g. target training with a single animal) Use a variety of suitable training methods and techniques in more challenging situations (e.g. dealing with challenging individuals, training in a group situation, training behaviour sequences)
Select the appropriate method or technique to solve an identified training need
2.7.3 Training Programme Describe the importance of training according to agreed protocols Demonstrate appropriate use of the training programme for the species under their care and give feedback to the responsible supervisor Design a training programme for a specific animal or a group of animals adjusted to the natural behaviour of the animal
Receive and interpret feedback on training according to the latest standards and specific purposes of training


  • K. Ramirez, Animal Training: Successful Animal Management Through Positive Reinforcement
  • K. Pryor, Don’t Shoot the Dog!: The New Art of Teaching and Training
  • K. Pryor, Getting Started: Clicker Training for Dogs
  • P. Tillman, Clicking With Your Dog: Step-By-Step in Pictures
  • J.A. Zeligs, Animal Training 101: The Complete and Practical Guide to the Art and Science of Behavior Modification
  • G. Stafford, Zoomility: Keeper Tales of Training with Positive Reinforcement

Paths to fulfilment

  • EAZA Academy Course ‘Animal Training: Understanding and Managing Animal Behaviour’ – EAZA

Last updated: 05/01/2018