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.


10th International Conference; Stockholm, Sweden; 2019

Event Details

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Invited Paper Session #24
CE Offered: BACB

Learning Solutions: Improving Zoo-Animal Welfare With ABA

Sunday, September 29, 2019
11:30 AM–12:20 PM
Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre, Level 4, A1
Area: AAB; Domain: Service Delivery
Instruction Level: Basic
CE Instructor: Susan Friedman, Ph.D.
Chair: Dag Strömberg (Autism Center for Young Children, Stockholm)
SUSAN FRIEDMAN (Utah State University)
Dr. Susan Friedman is a psychology professor at Utah State University who has pioneered the application of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to captive and companion animals. ABA, with its roots in human learning, offers a scientifically sound teaching technology and ethical standard that can improve the lives of all learners. Students from 22 different countries have participated in Susan's online courses, Living and Learning with Animals for Professionals and Living and Learning with Parrots for Caregivers. She has written chapters on learning and behavior for three veterinary texts (Behavior of Exotic Pets, Clinical Avian Medicine, and Manual of Parrot Behavior), and is a frequent contributor to popular magazines. Her articles appear around the world in eleven languages. Susan has presented seminars for a wide variety of professional organizations around the world such as the Association of Avian Veterinarians, the European Association of Zoos and Aquaria, Moorpark College Exotic Animal Training and Management program, and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. She has been nominated for the Media Award given by the International Association of Behavior Analysis for her efforts to disseminate to pet owners, veterinarians, animal trainers and zookeepers the essential tools they need to empower and enrich the lives of the animals in their care.

ABA principles, procedures and ethical standards are directly relevant to improving the welfare of zoo animals. A basic internet course was developed to improve ABA knowledge and skills of zoo keepers, veterinarians, and other animal professionals. In this presentation, the course and three case-studies of ABA interventions implemented by zoo keepers, will be briefly described: reducing self-injury with an elephant, increasing time in the visitor viewing area with a rhinoceros, and replacing rough handling of a baby orangutan by a surrogate orangutan mother.

Target Audience:

Applied behavior analysts interested in the application of basic principles and procedures to the zoo setting.

Learning Objectives: At the conclusion of the presentation, participants will be able to: (1) define the term “least-intrusive” according to Carter and Wheeler (2005); (2) explain the relevance of the “least intrusive” guidline to selecting behavior-change procedures in the zoo setting; (3) describe at least two programmatic safeguards that can be put in place when using negative reinforcement in animal training; (4) describe two or more obstacles to achieving sufficient experimental control collecting intervention data at the zoo.



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