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  Newsletter 08 July 2020  

Hello Visitor,

The International Avian Trainers Certification Board and the International Animal Trainers Certification Board, IATCB, offers you a way to gain professional credibility, increase your earnings potential, and advance your career. We live in a competitive world, and animal trainers are no different than anyone else looking for advanced knowledge and skill in their profession. IATCB endorses voluntary certification by examination for all professionals involved with animals, including trainers, educators, handlers, veterinarians, and all others involved in the care and handling of animals.

Facility Highlight

Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center is Penn State’s nature center & outdoor learning lab. The center has just completed a 3 year, $7.5 million expansion. As part of the overall renovation, we took the opportunity to implement a training program, using the most positive, least intrusive methods, to improve animal welfare and provide our students with the knowledge and skills to succeed in the zoological field.

Raptor TrainingOur raptor training starts with addressing a few unique challenges: these solitary predators are highly perceptive to their surroundings. Shaver’s Creek’s raptors are formerly wild, non-releasable animals sourced from rehabilitation centers. This also means all of our raptors are parent-raised and humans are not associated with reinforcers such as food and safety. Therefore, we challenge ourselves to be empathetic to the bird’s perspective, based on observable body language.

We begin our training process by associating humans with primary reinforcers that match the birds’ needs - another unique challenge to working with raptors. For example, tactile stimulation or toys are not always as appealing as they are to other animals. Therefore, we employ food and control over their environment as their primary reinforcers. For example, we allow the bird to control our proximity by carefully observing their body language - if the bird begins darting his or her eyes, or an owl begins “ballooning” his or her feathers, we step back. We also wait for the bird to approach us first before beginning a training session - empowering them to tell us when they are ready to train. This becomes easier when the bird associates humans with food reinforcers - we start by placing food and waiting for the bird to eat in our presence. Later, we provide shorter windows of opportunity and plenty of repetition to further establish the association between humans and reinforcers. Providing this control serves as a reminder for us to avoid flooding the birds with our presence - if we allow them to communicate with us and maintain control, we build a better and more trusting relationship with these animals.

As a result, our raptors begin sessions by approaching their trainers and showing frequent comfort behaviors around trainers throughout the session. With a balance between exercise and learning new behaviors, the birds show an eagerness to work, to learn, and to represent their species in a calm manner to our audiences.

FacilityIn addition to raptors, Shaver’s Creek is also home to 15 species of amphibians and reptiles (herps). These animals have been provided with enclosures that meet their most basic needs such as proper humidity, UVB lighting, and a thermal gradient that they can move between, as well as implementing species specific diets. Now that the physical needs of our animals have been met, we have begun to turn our attention to the cognitive needs of our herps. As of March of 2019, we have begun to target train our herps (specifically, our turtles, snakes, and eastern hellbender) to allow them similar amounts of choice and control over their environment as the birds. Although we are still early in this process, we are encouraged by the progress our animals and staff have been making thus far.

Shaver’s Creek constant commitment to improving animal welfare and our student experience means that professional development opportunities, including the Certified Professional Bird Trainer exam, are supported. Preparing for the exam has increased our institutional knowledge, improving our program from animals to humans. We highly encourage you to take the exam!

The Shaver’s Creek Animal Care Team
Jason Andrew Beale, CPBT-KA, Program Director
Abby Flanders, Raptor Program Coordinator
Joe Whitehead, Herp Program Coordinator

We would love to highlight you or your facility in our newsletter and on our Facebook page. Let us know the amazing things that you are doing to help raise the bar! Contact for more information.

Want to find out more about setting these types of standards within your facility or becoming certified? Contact the IATCB board by visiting our website!

Are you a Hopeful Certificant?

Looking for the study guide for the CPAT- KA exam? Click here

Looking for the study guide for the CPBT- KA exam? Click here

Testing Cycles for 2019

IATCB would like to encourage you to become certified.

Testing cycles are the same time for both the Certification Examination for Professional Bird Trainers and the Certification Examination for Professional Animal Trainers.

Fall 2019 Testing Dates

Application Deadline: September 20, 2019

Testing Window: Saturday, October 19—Saturday, November 2, 2019

Go to PTCNY to learn more about who’s eligible to take the exams, download the handbook and start studying!!!

Already certified?

Calling on Certificants. We are preparing for a new Certified Bird Trainer exam and we need your help! We are looking for new items (questions) for the exam. If you are currently certified, we would love for you to help us out. If 5 of your questions are selected for the exam, you will receive 1 hour of CEUs. Email for more info!

The CPBT-KA and CPAT-KA credential is valid for 5 years from the date it is awarded. To renew the credential a certificant must either re-take the examination after 5 years or accumulate sixty Continuing Education Credits (CEUs) by attending IATCB approved workshops, seminars, classes, or conferences. Head over to to check out a list of approved CEUs!

Looking for CEUs? Natural Encounters is hosting a Professional Bird of Prey Training Workshop at their Training Facility in Winter Haven, Florida for November 12- 15, 2019. Read On….

Trainers Talk

Sea world

SeaWorld Publishes Decades of Orca Data to Help Wild Whales

The endangered killer whales of the Pacific Northwest live very different lives from orcas in captivity.

They swim up to 100 miles (161 kilometers) a day in pursuit of salmon, instead of being fed a steady diet of baitfish and multivitamins. Their playful splashing awes and entertains kayakers and passengers on Washington state ferries instead of paying theme park customers.

But the captive whales are nevertheless providing a boon to researchers urgently trying to save wild whales in the Northwest.

SeaWorld, which displays orcas at its parks in California, Texas and Florida, has recently published data from thousands of routine blood tests of its killer whales over two decades, revealing the most comprehensive picture yet of what a healthy whale looks like. The information could guide how and whether scientists intervene to help sick or stranded whales in the wild. Read On…

Species Spotlight

Capybara; Hydrochoerus hydrochaeris

capybaraCapybaras are a strictly South American rodent species. Capybaras are found only in areas where water is easily accessible: flooded grasslands are a favored habitat, as are marsh edges and lowland forests where grazing is good and there is water year-round. apybaras are the largest of rodents, weighing from 35 to 66 kg. Their fur is coarse and thin, and is reddish brown over most of the body, turning yellowish brown on the belly and sometimes black on the face. The body is barrel-shaped, sturdy, and tailless. Capybaras live in groups of around 10 adults of both sexes, although groups can range in size from 3 to 30 and larger aggregations often form around water resources during the dry season. Each group maintains and defends a territory that encompasses feeding and wallowing sites. Capybaras are grazers, feeding mainly on grasses and aquatic plants. Bark and fruit are consumed occasionally. In many parts of South America capybaras are the only large grazing species and can have a dramatic effect on the vegetation in an area. They are also mutualists or commensals with several types of birds which pick parasitic insects out of capybara fur or follow grazing capybaras and eat the insects they stir up from the grass. IUCN lists them as Least Concern.

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