Amusement parks and cold war spies

There's a great article in the most recent Smithsonian Magazine about Bob Bailey and Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE). Many animal trainers are familiar with Bob Bailey because of the operant conditioning workshops that he teaches with chickens. However, Bob Bailey first became interested in animal behavior and training in the 1950s and spent decades training animals for government intelligence work, amusement parks and fairs, and much more.

“We never found an animal we could not train,” says Bailey, 76, who in his career has done everything from teaching dolphins to detect submarines to inventing the Bird Brain, an apparatus that enabled a person to play tick-tack-toe against a chicken.

I've had the pleasure of meeting Bob Bailey and hearing him speak at the Art and Science of Animal Training Conferences. (My notes from those conferences.) Bob Bailey is fascinating to listen to because he not only understands the science of training, but his many years of experience mean that he knows exactly how to use his understanding of the scientific principles of training to teach just about anything to any sort of animal.

I hope you'll check out the whole article, The CIA’s Most Highly-Trained Spies Weren’t Even Human. The article includes lots of interesting information, as well as old photographs and video clips of some of the animals that were trained by Bob Bailey and Animal Behavior Enterprises.

 

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