Welcome to this week’s Pet Expert, Laura Monaco-Torelli

A huge thank you to Pamela Johnson for returning to spend more time with us as last week’s pet expert…I hope to have Pamela join us again in the future! Until then, don’t forget to check out her fantastic training videos on youtube and check out her great facebook pages.

This week, I am happy to welcome my dear friend and a colleague to whom I owe many thanks, Laura Monaco-Torelli.

Laura will be joining us this week to discuss parallels between exotic animal training and dog training. Laura is uniquely qualified to address this topic, as she has extensive experience in both fields.

Laura, founder of Animal Behavior Training Concepts (ABTC), and the company’s training team work in collaboration with clients and animal health professionals to provide high-quality care for the animals in their lives. ABTC focuses on Inspiring Compassionate Animal Care through Positive Interactions. Force-free training principles and guidance are provided through seminars and interactive group and individual sessions. Laura enjoys sharing the many wonderful benefits of positive reinforcement training with various species.

Laura began her professional animal training career in 1991 with the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. As a Senior Lead Trainer, she trained beluga whales, dolphins, sea otters, seals, river otters, and penguins. In 2000, Laura moved from marine to terrestrial animals, working for the San Diego Zoo and Brookfield Zoo as a Supervisory Keeper. She has trained a wide variety of species, including primates, large cats, birds of prey, horses, parrots, macaws, tree kangaroos, red pandas, and dogs while in the zoological community. Laura’s experience with horses has provided numerous opportunities to teach them to cooperate in their daily care.

Laura’s belief is that training should be fun, exciting, and educational for both people and their animal companions. Her unique professional background, which encompasses animal training, public and outreach programs, and educational seminars, allows her to create a dynamic and engaging environment for each client class. Laura’s personal philosophy and unique skills keep her clients coming back for more training.

In 2005, Laura created a partnership with Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC), offering free training and management advice seminars for dogs and the new family members who have adopted them from CACC. Her determination to build a positive educational forum for rescue dogs and caregivers was driven by the desire to decrease the number of dogs returned to shelters.

In August of 2008, Niabi Zoo (Niabi Zoological Society) invited Laura to be their Animal Training and Behavior Consultant, bringing her career full-circle and back to applying positive reinforcement training with exotic species. She is collaborating with Niabi Zoo staff, focusing on training programs with the primates, large cats, Arctic foxes, and reticulated giraffes.

The APVMA (American Pre-Veterinary Medical Association) invited Laura to speak at the 2009 Symposium hosted by the University of Illinois College Of Veterinary Medicine in Champaign-Urbana, and the 2010 Symposium hosted by Purdue University. She presented papers and provided interactive hands-on Labs for students to learn about positive reinforcement, marker-based training.

She currently serves as the Student Application Coordinator for Karen Pryor Academy.

Laura continues as a volunteer for the Shedd Aquarium as a SCUBA diver for the Wild Reef exhibit. She holds a TAGteach Level 1 Certification, and is studying toward earning her Graduate Degree in Biology. Laura also volunteers as a Delta Society Pet Partner, and a Doggone Safe “Be A Tree” Presenter.

Laura and her husband share their lives with spirited, energetic, and entertaining Rhodesian ridgebacks and lively cats.

Here are some articles about Laura you may find interesting!

Making Music Together – a beautiful piece about Laura’s work with a special young musician and her puppy.
Building Behaviors at the Niabi Zoo: Part One – a piece by Laura on her work at the Niabi Zoo. Don’t miss the great giraffe training video!

Building Behaviors at the Niabi Zoo: Part Two – Laura’s follow up to the previous article. Free registration required (do not hesitate, this password will allow you access to many great articles on KPCT!).

KPA Grad Laura Monaco Torelli in the News!

Karen Pryor Academy: What’s in it for you? A piece I wrote for KPCT about what the program has to offer even very experienced trainers. (Laura, in particular. Thanks for the help with this one!)

Please join me in welcoming Laura. Lo, I’m thrilled to have you with us this week!

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