How do you train an elephant to participate in medical care?

The answer: positive reinforcement training.

This training is essential for improving captive animal welfare in zoos and rescues. We're proud to offer one of the only (and certainly the best!) course available for training elephants with positive reinforcement methods.

In this course, you'll learn how to build trust between wild animals and the people who care for them, including how to:

  • Teach elephants to participate in their own health care!

  • Use positive reinforcement training to increase safety for animals, keepers, and veterinarians

  • Train a new healthcare behavior, such as an elephant presenting their ear for a blood draw or their foot for a nail trimming

  • Prevent and reduce aggressive and stereotypic behaviors

  • Use desensitization or counter-conditioning to change an animal's emotional response to a situation

  • Establish the first essential behaviors every elephant needs to participate in its own medical care - the key to having a long and happy life

  • Learn training principles based on trust, respect, and freedom of choice that can be applied to any animal

Meet your instructor

Animal Behavior Specialist

Chrissy Pratt

Chrissy Pratt is an animal trainer and behaviorist with nearly 20 years of experience. She believes in training that is based on trust, respect, and freedom of choice. Chrissy began her career as a marine mammal trainer in the United States where she saw firsthand how operant conditioning principles were applied to improve the lives of animals in captivity. Her first experiences training elephants was as an Animal Care Specialist at Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida. In 2013, she shifted her focus to elephant rescue and rehabilitation and began her full-time mission to teach positive reinforcement training and other ways of improving elephant welfare in Thailand, Myanmar, India, Nepal, and Zimbabwe. Chrissy has taught Loop Abroad students in person in Thailand as well as joined as a guest lecturer in online Elephant Management and Medicine courses.

Who It’s For

These training principles also apply to dogs, horses, and many other animals. People who would benefit from this course:

  • Animal keepers and rescue volunteers
  • Veterinarians, vet techs, and other animal care staff
  • Anyone working in animal behavior, training, zoology
  • Students preparing for veterinary school or wildlife conservation
  • Elephant enthusiasts
  • Pet owners

What you get

This course includes 15 hours of expert instruction including field demonstrations of elephant training techniques.

To earn a Certificate of Completion, you will need to complete all the online quizzes with a passing grade.

You can also earn 1 university credits through our US university partner by passing all the quizzes and passing a virtually proctored final exam.

Elephant Positive Reinforcement Training

15 hours, 1 university credit

  1. 1
    • Introduction to the course

    • Sign the Online Course Agreement

  2. 2
    • Operant and Classical Conditioning

    • Quiz 1

  3. 3
    • Free Contact and Protected Contact

    • Quiz 2

  4. 4
    • Training Foundational Behaviors

    • Quiz 3

  5. 5
    • Planning a Behavior

    • Quiz 4

  6. 6
    • Desensitization and counter conditioning

    • Quiz 5

  7. 7
    • Discriminative Stimuli and the Schedule of Reinforcement

    • Quiz 6 Part 1

    • The Least Reinforcing Scenario (LRS) and the target behavior

    • Quiz 6 Part 2

    • Magnitude and Balance of Reinforcement, Duration, and Generalization

    • Quiz 6 Part 3

  8. 8
    • Breaking Down a Behavior

    • Quiz 7 Part 1

    • Behavior extinction and punishment

    • Quiz 7 Part 2

  9. 9
    • Addressing Aggression

    • Quiz 8

  10. 10
    • Addressing Stereotypical Behavior

    • Quiz 9