Association for Behavior Analysis International

The Association for Behavior Analysis International® (ABAI) is a nonprofit membership organization with the mission to contribute to the well-being of society by developing, enhancing, and supporting the growth and vitality of the science of behavior analysis through research, education, and practice.


31st Annual Convention; Chicago, IL; 2005

Event Details

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Symposium #53
Zoos and Aquariums as Living Laboratories for Basic and Applied Research
Saturday, May 28, 2005
2:30 PM–3:50 PM
Boulevard C (2nd floor)
Area: EAB; Domain: Basic Research
Chair: Terry L. Maple (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Zoos and Aquariums exhibit resistance to behavioral scientists from the outside even though they represent themselves as "science-friendly" institutions. We demonstrate in this symposium two studies of the learning skills and sensory abilities of large animals that required close cooperation with zoo managers. Behavioral principles have been successfully applied for easy manipulations during husbandry and medical procedures, demonstrating the added value of scientific participation in management. We also discuss the experiences of scientific curators now entering the zoo field. The limitations and constraints on zoo research are discussed in terms of creative methodology designed to overcome impediments and objections. The unique value of behavior analysis is discussed in light of the history of animal training for entertainment and husbandry, and a future is foreseen for those who will engineer the environments of future zoos and aquariums.
Shaping Giant Pandas for Research and Husbandry
ANGELA KELLING (Georgia Institute of Technology), Wendy Gardner (Zoo Atlanta), Kenneth Harwood (Zoo Atlanta), Jason Pratt (Zoo Atlanta), Katherine Duello (Zoo Atlanta), Pei Sun (Georgia Institute of Technology), Estelle Sandhaus (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Positive reinforcement training has been used to improve care and management and to induce participation in research. Using a squeeze cage or a simple "hold" procedure, many veterinary procedures have been successfully performed without anesthesia. Reproductive assessments, milk expression, even artificial insemination, have been shaped. Studies of color vision and spatial memory have also been attempted through the application of behavioral techniques.
Tactile Same-Different Discrimination Learning in Three African Elephants
URSULA ANDERSON (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract: Tactile same-different discrimination of objects was investigated in three captive African elephants. Subjects were presented with 10 pairs of objects through an apparatus that permitted only tactual perception with the trunk. Subjects were rewarded for "same" responses. Elephants may be more skilled in discriminating tactual stimuli as compared to their very limited visual abilities. Baseline studies in this domain will permit later research on cross-modal perception, an ability well-suited to elephants we believe.
Trials and Tribulations of a Scientific Curastor in the Zoo
KRISTEN E. LUKAS (Cleveland Metroparks Zoo)
Abstract: Doctoral level curators are entering the zoo and aquarium profession in greater numbers, and they are introducing a new commitment to scientific management. This paper compares the scientific climate in three zoos in which the author has worked, and describes the different perspectives of scientists and managers in an effort to find common ground. Scientific management depends upon good personal relations between keepers, curators, senior managers, scientists and educators. The complex web of management relationships in zoos and aquariums is dissected and constructively evaluated. Some principles for conducting research in zoos and aquariums are promulgated.
Opportunities and Impediments to Behavior Analysis in Zoos and Aquariums
TERRY L. MAPLE (Georgia Institute of Technology), Diann Gaalema (Georgia Institute of Technology)
Abstract: The authors review the successes and failures of behavior analysis in zoos and aquariums, highlighting new opportunities and looming challenges for scientists and students who aim to conduct zoo and aquarium research. Surveys are reviewed that reveal underlying aversions to science, and structural impediments that make zoo and aquarium research difficult. The authors describe techniques and approaches to research designed to facilitate relationships and enable studies to succeed.



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