Lectures & Presentations

Fall Lecture Series

Our Fall Lecture Series features an exciting array of experts specializing in animal learning, behavior change, and conservation. The best part: you can tune in to some from the comfort of your own home! We hope you can join us for these once-in-a-lifetime expeditions where we will learn from world renowned scientists about animal behaviors, learning styles, and training along with examining how this information can be used to help save critically endangered species. Some of the lectures in this series won’t be recorded, and you won’t want to miss your chance to learn from our extraordinary speakers so, sign up today!


Behavior is to What? How WE Learn*

September 22, 2022, 7 p.m.

ASnider-(4).jpg Speaker: Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D. – professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University 

Dr. Friedman will share the 6 fundamental topics in animal behavior consulting and training. These topics include an evolutionary view of learning and behavior, a review of the science of behavior-change called behavior analysis, common obstacles to the scientific analysis of learning and behavior, ABC assessment to better understand, predict and change behavior, the errorless learning philosophy and antecedent arrangement to make the right behavior more likely, the relevance of the least intrusive procedure to ethical use of training procedures. This fascinating lecture won’t be recorded, and you won’t want to miss this in-depth look at how animals – including humans – learn so, register today!

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University. Susan has co-authored chapters on behavior change in five veterinary texts, and her popular articles have been translated into 17 languages. She teaches seminars and courses on animal learning online (How Behavior Works: Living & Learning With Animals), with students from 60 countries so far. Susan also consults with zoos and animal organizations around the world. She was appointed to the F&WS California Condor Recovery Team from 2002 – 2010, after which time the team was retired due to the success of the birds in the wild. She is currently the Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane Association (AHA) Film and TV Unit. See behaviorworks.org and facebook.com/behaviorworks.

 *This lecture will not be recorded for later viewing. To ensure your ability to learn from these experts, please register to guarantee your spot. *This lecture will not be recorded for later viewing. To ensure your ability to learn from these experts, please register to guarantee your spot.


Training Behaviors for Animal Care and Welfare

October 19, 2022, 7 p.m. - CANCELLED

BTurtle.jpgOur apologies for the inconvenience, but this lecture has been cancelled. 

Speakers: Tim Snyder, VP of Animal Care and Rita Stacey, VP of Animal Programs, Chicago Zoological Society

Brookfield Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Care Tim Snyder and Vice President of Animal Programs, Rita Stacey join us and share their years of experience in animal training, care, and welfare. Our experts will explore the importance of fostering caring relationships with the animals entrusted to our care through proven training techniques that ensure our animal residents participate in and receive mental and physical stimulation; nutritious meals; and world-class, groundbreaking healthcare while helping scientists and zoo guests understand a little more about the natural world around them.

Tim Snyder was named vice president of animal care for the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo. In his new position, Tim supervises several animal departments—bird, mammal, and herp/aquatic—as well as focusing his attention on husbandry/care, breeding programs, and conservation efforts. He has been at Brookfield Zoo since 2008, and until recently has been the curator of birds.

He currently manages the AZA Blue-grey Tanager and Red-capped Cardinal Species Survival Plans and serves as the Chair of the Passeriformes, Apodiformes, Capimulgiformes, Coliiformes, and Trogoniformes (PACCT) Taxon Advisory Group.

Rita Stacey began her life-long career at Brookfield Zoo more than 30 years ago. Prior to her new position as vice president of animal programs, she was marine mammal curator since 2009. Rita continues to oversee marine mammals in addition to several other animal areas and programs, including animal ambassadors, behavioral husbandry, and enrichment. Her focus is to lead the Chicago Zoological Society’s impact in connecting people with wildlife and nature by expanding the animal experience with Brookfield Zoo’s guests and the Chicago-area communities.

Rita serves the zoological community by leading AZA’s Grey Seal SSP as the coordinator and studbook keeper, steering committee member of AZA’s Marine Mammal TAG, and was the past secretary for the Marine Mammal TAG. Other service roles included past board member and treasurer for the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA).


Conservation Connection: Training to Save Wildlife*
October 25, 2022, 7 p.m. 

Speaker: Ken Ramirez, Exectutive Vice President and Chief Training Officer of Karen Pryor Clicker Training

World-renowned training expert Ken Ramirez will share why applied behavior analysis is an exciting and expanding direction for enhancing success in wildlife conservation. Key applications include the expanded use of husbandry training for conservation research, remote training projects, introduction of species to the wild, and other uses of behavior knowledge to aid in managing and studying animals to contribute to conservation. These applications have been used in assisting with conservation efforts with condors, wolves, sea otters, dolphins, sea lions, polar bears, sea turtles, chimpanzees, elephants and many others. Join Ken for an exploration of some these unique and inspiring conservation projects enhanced through innovative training techniques. This fascinating lecture won’t be recorded so, make sure you register to guarantee your spot!

Ken Ramirez is the Executive Vice-President and Chief Training Officer of Karen Pryor Clicker Training (KPCT) where he oversees the vision, development, and implementation of training education programs for the organization. He also runs the KPCT National Training Center where he teaches courses and seminars year-round.

Previously, Ken served as EVP of animal care and animal training at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium, where he developed and supervised animal care and animal health programs, staff training and development as well as public presentation programs for more than 32,000 animals. He worked at Shedd Aquarium for over 25 years.

A 40+ year veteran of animal care and training, Ramirez is a biologist and animal behaviorist who has overseen or consulted on training projects for many zoological organizations worldwide.  He began his training career working with guide dogs for the visually impaired and has maintained a close affiliation to pet training throughout his career.  He hosted two successful seasons of the television series Talk to the Animals that compared pet training to the important work done with training and caring for animals in zoological facilities.  He has also worked closely with several search and rescue dog organizations, service dog groups, as well as with bomb and narcotic dogs.

Ramirez has been active in several professional organizations, including the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), of which he is a past president.  Ken has been actively involved in the creation of a certification process for animal trainers in zoological settings.

Ramirez has written numerous scientific publications and authored countless popular articles.  He authored the book ANIMAL TRAINING: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement (1999) and Better Together: The Collected Wisdom of Modern Dog Trainers (2017). For 20 years he taught a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University.

*This lecture will not be recorded for later viewing. To ensure your ability to learn from these experts, please register to guarantee your spot.


Mexican Wolf Conservation: Adapting Behaviors of Animal Care Professionals for Animal Care and Conservation

November 15, 2022, 7 p.m.


Speaker: Joan Daniels Tantillo, Senior Curator of Mammals at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield Zoo has been involved with the recovery breeding program and fostering of pups to the wild of the rarest subspecies of gray wolf in North America, Mexican wolves, since the opening of Regenstein’s Wolf Woods in 2003.  Since that time, we have successfully cross-fostered pups to several packs living in the wild, and this spring three pups were successfully fostered to the Whitewater Canyon pack in New Mexico. This lecture will focus on cross-fostering techniques and how Brookfield Zoo’s Animal Care Specialists adapt their traditional care routines to avoid imprinting on the young pups and keeping the adult wolves from becoming acclimated to human routines to ensure the wolves and their off-spring are ready for release to the wild, if and when the time comes. 

Approximately 4,000 wolves once lived in their historic range, which included central and northern Mexico and the southwestern United States. In May 1976, USFWS added the species to the Endangered Species List. From the 1980s until 1998, when reintroduction efforts began, Mexican wolves were considered extinct in the wild. Their demise, which began in the early 1900s, was the result of antipredator campaigns in the United States and Mexico.  According to the USF&W Interagency Field Team which conducted ground and aerial counts this past winter, there are nearly 200 Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico.  And, Mexican officials reported at least an additional 40 individuals in Mexico, which just celebrated its 10th anniversary of releasing wolves to the wild.

Joan Daniels Tantillo received her graduate training at DePaul University in Zoological Collections Management. She has worked for the Chicago Zoological Society throughout her career and is currently Senior Curator of Mammals at Brookfield Zoo. Joan oversees the care of the wolves at the Zoo and has been an active part of the Species Survival Plan and the Recovery Program for Mexican wolves for many years.


Godwits: Changing Climate, Changing Flight Patterns*

December 7, 2022, 7 p.m.

TamimaItani.jpgSpeaker: Dr. Nathan Senner, Assistant Professor in the Department of Enviornmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

Shorebirds are the champions of migration: their flights span hemispheres and defy our preconceived notions about what is possible. Hudsonian Godwits are emblematic of this strategy and migrate from the southern tip of South America to breed in Alaska and Canada. This lecture will highlight how godwits are altering their migrations and responding to global climate change, as well as what we can do to help them along the way. This session won’t be recorded so, to ensure you learn from Dr. Senner, register today!

Dr. Nathan Senner is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Environmental Conservation at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Following his undergraduate studies at Carleton College, he was awarded a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship to follow Hudsonian Godwits on their epic migrations. He then received his PhD from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at Cornell University. Now, his research group continues to follow godwits, but has also branched out to study long-distance migratory shorebirds wherever they occur.

*This lecture will not be recorded for later viewing. To ensure your ability to learn from these experts, please register to guarantee your spot.

Register Now!

Have questions? Contact the Education Department at adultlearning@czs.org


Advanced Inquiry Program


The Advanced Inquiry Program (AIP) is a conservation-focused, inquiry-driven learning experience that combines web-based graduate courses through Miami University with exciting face-to-face experiential and field study at Brookfield Zoo. Students in this national degree program contribute to social and ecological change in their communities. The opportunity to earn credits from international travel is another exciting part of the program. And the best news of all – it’s affordable!