Publication Date



School of Health Sciences


Zoo and Wildlife Biology


animal behavior, animal training, animal learning, positive reinforcement, operant conditioning, Law of Effect


Animal Studies | Behavior and Ethology | Zoology


Methods of positive reinforcement as a successful means for animal training are the result of many years of research into operant conditioning and learning. However, current literature is unclear on the extent to which these methods are utilized in captive wild and exotic animal populations in the United States. Through phone interviews with animal trainers employed at zoos and wildlife rehabilitation centers in the eastern United States, the author determined that these facilities are currently utilizing positive reinforcement training methods which are proving to be a great benefit for all parties involved. They are enabling a variety of voluntary health procedures to be conducted without anesthesia, improving keeper-animal relationships, and making animal care easier overall for the keepers.