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Photo of JoAnne Simerson JOANNE SIMERSON

At the San Diego Zoo, JoAnne Simerson is Lead of the Husbandry and Enrichment Division of the Animal Behavior Management Department/Senior Animal Trainer. To prepare for this work, JoAnne earned an A.S. in animal health technology and a B.A. in behavioral science. She also worked as an animal trainer at Sea World and a volunteer behavioral observer at the San Diego Wild Animal Park Condor Program.

JoAnne's current position allows her to work with a variety of animals, limited only by the number of species at the San Diego Zoo. Her job involves behavioral management of animals to allow for better veterinary care, and working intimately with the animals lets her develop unique and personal relationships with each individual. JoAnne and her colleagues have trained the female panda for ultra sound, lions and bears for weights and crate trained many animals for easy transport throughout the zoo. "Training animals for ultra-sound, blood collection and urine collection all helps us obtain better data collection for endangered animals," explains JoAnne.

Another aspect of JoAnne's work is providing enrichment for the animals. Training or learning is certainly enriching for them, but it's also important to find ways to stimulate them both physically and mentally by adding different items to their environment, as seen on this episode of Frontiers. "I enjoy using creativity, knowledge of species' natural behaviors and the individual animals to find a great enrichment," says JoAnne. "Then I watch to see what the animals can teach us!"

See JoAnne Simerson's answers to Ask the Scientists questions.


Scientific American Frontiers
Fall 1990 to Spring 2000
Sponsored by GTE Corporation,
now a part of Verizon Communications Inc.