Schubot Seminars

Spring 2020:

Friday February 7, 2020, 12-1pm 101A VENI

Training to Improve Welfare and Release Success of Orangutans in Borneo

Barbara Heidenreich, Barbara’s Force Free Animal Training

Releasing displaced or rehabilitated orangutans back into the wild is the primary goal of most orangutan conservation projects. But the reality is, unsustainable palm oil farming has led to hundreds of animals living in sanctuary situations in Indonesia. Some of these animals can be released with proper medical care. Orphaned animals, if trained to be well-mannered, journey back to the wild via forest school. Others can experience improved welfare if they can learn to cooperate in day to day care and medical care. In 2018-19 our team of trainers visited two sites in Borneo to introduce staff and approximately 400 resident orangutans to the benefits of training. We had many naïve animals to train and saw tremendous transformation. We also had to overcome fear responses, aggressive behavior, the challenges of working with limited resources, safety issues, and very limited time to produce results. This presentation will share the details of this training initiative in Borneo and how animal trainers and veterinarians are making an impact on the welfare and conservation of one of the rarest species on the planet.

More about the Barbara’s work here: 


Tuesday, February 11, 2020, 12-1pm, 101C VENI

Attwater’s prairie chickens- threats to saving the most endangered species of North American Grouse

Judilee Marrow, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, Staff Veterinarian, Houston Zoo

Since 1995, the Houston Zoo has raised and released over 1200 Attwater’s prairie chickens into the wild to help the populations recover and thrive.  Native to Texas, this small, brown bird calls the coastal prairie grasslands home. This species is best known for “booming” – a dance done by males to attract females during mating season in which they stomp their feet and fill the orange air sacs on the sides of their neck, creating a sound that can be heard up to half a mile away! With historic populations numbering close to 1,000,000 birds, it is estimated that less than 100 of these birds are left in the wild. The Houston Zoo manages the captive breeding program for the Attwater’s prairie chicken, with breeding facilities both behind the scenes at the Zoo and at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

More about the Houston Zoo’s conservation program here: