“Train Like a Professional” Retreat

A five day immersive retreat that combines presentation, demonstration, and hands on training opportunities covering learning theory, behavior science principles, and problem solving tools. Topics will include how to set up the environment for success, develop sensitivity, and how to make the most out of new relationships. Guests will be given opportunities for mentored hands-on training each day, to hone their skills and learn new ones with farm animals as well as birds including parrots, corvids, hornbills, birds of prey, and toucans, dogs, and even reptiles to help build our understanding of what makes the best animal companion and teacher in each of us.

Recommended Experience
While a general understanding of operant conditioning is helpful, the most important asset is a curious mind and eagerness to expand one’s skillset living and working with animals.

Tuesday, January 30 – Saturday, February 3, 2018

Trainers Hillary Hankey of Avian Behavior International, Chris Shank of Cockatoo Downs, and Cari Clements Inserra of San Diego Zoo and Training Assistant Kathryne Thorpe of Avian Behavior International

Registration includes five lunches, Saturday dinner, snacks and beverages, and transportation to and from recommended hotels.

Early bird registration through December 15, 2017: $1075
Regular registration after December 15, 2017 : $1190

Trainers and Training Assistants

Hillary Hankey

Hillary Hankey’s first interest in animal behavior began with the documentation of the family cat’s daily habits, including hours of cat naps, on her dad’s camcorder as practice for becoming a National Geographic researcher. Her fascination turned to birds when she began accruing her avian collection in her childhood bedroom, and has been training birds ever since. Hillary has worked for zoos as an animal trainer and keeper, and in 2010 founded Learning Parrots in her free time, a consulting practice designed to help parrot owners utilize positive reinforcement for better relationships. She also volunteered to raise toucans and consulted with wildlife education facilities, working with exotic mammals and reptiles. In 2013, Hillary left the comfort of a predictable paycheck and started Avian Behavior International, a bird training and education organization. With ABI, she has stayed with the Waurá tribe in the backwaters of the Amazon, flown birds through the Rainbow Arch of Lake Powell, produced free flying bird shows for zoological parks, and explored and developed new ways to help others contribute to conserving our planet with avian ambassadors. Through ABI, she continues to set goals to help animal trainers in a deeper, more meaningful way and be a part of a progressive movement with high standards of ethical behavior management and the presentation of free-flying birds in educational programs in zoos and similar institutions everywhere.

Chris Shank

Her name was Tampiki and she was responsible for leading Chris Shank down the path to parrot adoration. She is to blame, in a good way, for Chris’s present life that includes thirteen cockatoos. When Chris was a young, her mom had finally said she could have a budgie. Wild with excitement, they stood in front of a small aviary full of nervous flying budgies at the now historic Farmer’s Maker in Los Angeles. Tampi’s turquoise color caught Chris’s eye. She chose her and along with her, Chris’s future with parrots was sealed.

Years later, Chris learned about training and working with animals by attending the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College. For her internship in the program, she worked at Busch Gardens in Van Nuys, California. This was a bird park with a huge variety ranging from macaws to wood ducks.

During her training career, she has worked with dolphins, parrots, hoofstock, and even a chimp. Being a good trainer requires constant education. She learns from trusted training sources to improve her animal teaching skills without force and in the most positive way possible.

This ongoing education helps her teach people how to live successfully with their own parrots through her training workshops, camps for kids, retreats, and presentations. She can thank dear sweet Tampi, a tiny puff of turquoise feathers, for this never ending fascinating journey.

Cari Clements Inserra CPBT-KA

Originally from San Diego, CA, Cari graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Biology and Psychology. She has been producing free flight bird shows at zoos all over the country, consulting on animal behavior and training around the world, and teaching workshops to both professional animal trainers and companion parrot owners for almost 20 years. She is currently a Lead Animal Trainer in the Animal Connections department at the San Diego Zoo, working with a variety of free flight birds and other animals. Cari is passionate about learning the science of behavior change and gaining knowledge from other amazing trainers in the field. Her greatest rewards come from helping others improve their relationships with their animals. She’s kept busy at home by 2 amazing little boys and a French bulldog.

Kathryne Thorpe

Kathryne Thorpe has been involved with parrots for well over 20 years.  She has participated in numerous intensive training workshops including a high intensity advanced  two person workshop where she helped train birds and animals that would participate in the free flighted bird show at the San Diego Zoo. Kathryne is a fixture at Avian Behavior International, where she is a training assistant, and plays a critical role in raising and training birds for free flying bird shows, as well as assisting with training the birds and animals for appearances in documentaries and outreach programs. She is a member of the IAATE (International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators), ABMA (Animal Behavior Management Alliance) World Parrot Trust, Parrots International, Indonesian Parrot Project, and strongly supports parrot conservation efforts around the world.