Archives for January 2010

Advanced Inquiry Program Graduate Degree Now Available

I just got an announcement about a graduate degree focused on inquiry driven learning and social change.

The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) is a joint program between the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden and Miami University’s Project Dragonfly.

The unique spin of AIP combines graduate courses that take place at the zoo with web-based learning communities that also link you up with a network of educators and community leaders.

There are two degrees available:

  • Master of Art in Teaching (MAT) in Biological Sciences for licensed K-12 teachers
  • Master of Arts (MA) in Zoology for informal educators

The Advanced Inquiry Program Master’s candidates use inquiry for integrated learning and as a tool for student achievement, public engagement in science, and ecological stewardship.

All Advanced Inquiry Program students join a network of local and national leaders whose goal is to work together to implement change and to improve their professions, institutions, neighborhoods, and environments.

Eligibility for Advanced Inquiry Program
Enrollment in the Advanced Inquiry Program is open to applicants that have been awarded a Bachelor’s degree, regardless of academic major.

Advanced Inquiry Program is specifically designed for K-12 teachers and those with a broad range of environmental and education professionals.

In addition, this program can be completed as a part-time course of study for anyone who is employed.

Advanced Inquiry Program Requirements: 35 Hours

  • 21 credit hours at the zoo, combined with
  • 14 additional credit hours via web-based learning communities.

All 35 hours involve a web component and students must also complete a Master’s portfolio.

Sample Graduate Courses

  • Foundations of Advanced Inquiry: Grasp an understanding of the philosophy and process of inquiry.
  • Habitats, Adaptation, and Evolution: Investigate key questions about different species and their habitats.
  • Plants & People: Explore inquiry to generate knowledge and illuminate the relationships between plants and people.
  • Primate Behavior & Conservation: Study primate behavior through direct observation and discuss conservation issues.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
A leading informal and formal education facility, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden provides a unique and ideal learning environment in which to gain an appreciation and understanding of science and nature.

Education programs for all ages foster a sense of wonder, share knowledge, and advocate active involvement with wildlife and wild places.

The Zoo’s Education Department co-founded Earth Expeditions, a professional development program for educators, upon which the Advanced Inquiry Program is founded.

Application Deadline

All application materials should arrive by February 28.

For further information visit the Advanced Inquiry Program or apply here.

Direct contacts for further information:
Project Dragonfly Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
Connie Malone
Tel. 513-529-5103

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
Dan Marsh
Tel. 513-559-7717

The Chicago Zoological Society (Brookfield Zoo)
Agnes Kovacs
Tel. 708-688-8223

Dog Shock Collar (Video)

For some reason, people think the above video of a kid being shocked by a remote dog training collar  is funny.

I don’t think it is funny at all and I wonder what people find amusing about inflicting pain intentionally.

In my whole animal training career, I’ve never used shock to train an animal.

Now we’ve used it as a “hot wire” barrier for safety when training lions (males tend to want to eat your bucket of chicken necks and can get possessive and aggressive when they want your stash).

Some trainers that specialize in training rattlesnake avoidance use it.

So, if the shock collar training would save the life of an animal would you use it?

Hard question to answer.

But personally, I’ve never been interested in using shock for behavior problems or dog training because I believe that you can get by without it.

So, when I tested the Aboistop (now known as citronella collar) back in the early 1990s, I thought it was a great alternative collar for some of the pet behavior problems that people used electronic collars to solve.

Back then it was the mission of many sales reps from the electronic collar industry to try to convince me that I was mistaken about shock collars.

One swore it was not as horrible as I thought.

So, being the dedicated (and sometimes stupid) animal trainer, I decided to test a collar myself.

I held the collar in my hand, he set the shock level at the lowest level, and then he shocked me.

No warning tone–just a pure jolt of electrical current that hurt and that left my hand numb for a unacceptable duration of time. (Something like a half an hour if I remember right.)

It had the opposite effect that he intended because he really convinced me that I did not want to use shock to train animals, even though I already knew that prior to this “test,” it helps to have no doubt in your mind.

Now I mentioned in a previous post that I’ve had discussions with more traditional trainers that do use shock.

The use of the electronic collar has been pretty standard in hunting dog circles (correct me if this has changed drastically) and for problems such as barking.

I remember going on the rounds of this traditional trainer and checking the electronic collar on a doberman that was a problem barker–the owner did not rotate it over the previous week and the dog actually had two burns where the prongs hit the neck.

So I just have to ask, when does this type of thing cross over into animal abuse?

And, is it the owner’s lack of compliance the reason for using the collar that ultimately contributed to the injury?

Shock is used in a lot of animal industries, and back in the day (1970s) , we had “hot shots” (cattle prods) on hand for emergencies at one wild animal training facility I worked at.

In most cases, the cattle prods are used to dissuade animals in certain situations and moving large animals away from open gates or downed fences without having to touch them.

Cops reportedly used cattle prods on humans during the civil rights movement.

There is also a disturbing (and foul mouthed) redneck video of a guy using a cattle prod on another guy which drops him to the ground, the guy zaps him again–and they think it is funny. He is down for a while and actually pukes.

That type of shock packs a powerful punch and isn’t a game.

So, now I have to ask you: What your opinion is on the use of shock in animal training?

  • Have you used it?
  • If so, How do you justify the use of electronic training collars?
  • What experiences can you share about the use of shock collars?
  • How do you deal with owner non-compliance?
  • Do you think it is okay for use with any living thing?
  • Do you think there are other alternatives?
  • If you have no experience with the use of shock in training an animal, on what what do you base your opinion? (Pro or Con)

Please share your answers below.