APL Colloquium

November 4, 2016

Colloquium Topic: A Brief History and Some Applications of Terrestrial, Aerial, and Aquatic Trained Animal Behavior Systems

Today’s CRAFT of animal training, the process of changing behavior, is ancient in origin, and based mostly on the undocumented experiences those practicing the craft. Today’s TECHNOLOGY of animal training, the process of changing behavior, is based much more on methods of science and data supported principles. Animal training, as a CRAFT and as a TECHNOLOGY, coexist today, though many animal training practitioners do not admit to the difference. Dr. Bob Bailey will describe the animal training’s history, including the relatively recent commercial and noncommercial applications of the behavior technology called operant conditioning.  The merging of today’s behavioral procedures with modern information transmission and processing technology has given rise to significant increase in the range, duration, and precision of the training and use of animals for commercial, military, law enforcement, research, and conservation purposes. Dr. Bailey will describe some of the non-classified applications of audio, visual, radio, and other transmission media that have been used to communicate with trained animals in the field. Also, he will describe some behavioral systems that include various remotely controlled robotic devices. The research and development of improved animal/machine/human interfaces is part of an ongoing program to further the capabilities of various terrestrial, aerial, and aquatic biological systems.

Colloquium Speaker: Bob Bailey

Bob Bailey is a behavioral-systems analyst and engineer, small-businessman, field biologist, animal trainer, and teacher, not necessarily in that order.  His early years in the 1940s were spent trekking the Southern California desert collecting and studying animals. His Van Nuys High School (California) years in the early 1950s were spent in the machine shop, physics and chemistry labs, and on the sports fields and in the gymnasium. While attending UCLA (B.S. Biology and Chemistry) in the 1950s, he was a teaching and research assistant, studying animals in the Southwestern USA and Mexico, SCUBA diving for California Fish and Game, and surfing and fishing the California beaches. His behavior conditioning (training) experience at UCLA included crows, coyotes, and kangaroo rats in the wild and captive, cephalopods, amphibians, fishes, and reptiles. He was largely self-taught in applied psychology (training), and read the works of B. F. Skinner and Keller and Marian Breland, among others. 

After his US Army service, Bailey was hired as a biochemist at the UCLA School of Medicine where he worked for nearly two years, developing new thin-film chromatographic bioassay procedures. He was then employed as a Field Biologist for the State of California Fish and Game Department for several months. In 1962 he was hired as the US Navy Marine Mammal Program’s first Director of Training at Pt. Mugu, California, and conducted the Navy’s first open-ocean release of a dolphin (1963-64). While at Pt. Mugu, he worked directly with Marian and Keller Breland, the founders of Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) in Hot Springs, Arkansas. In 1965 he left the Navy program to join ABE, and became ABE’s Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer in 1968-69 after the death of Keller Breland. ABE’s business was worldwide in scope and Bailey directed the activities of about 50 full-time and 50 part-time employees. ABE personnel trained over 140 species and more than 15,000 individual animals.  Bailey closed the ABE operations in 1990, and Marian and he continued to teach. Marian, 25 years his wife, died in 2001.  Bailey continues to teach and consult for companies and government agencies around the world.

ABE was at the forefront of developing and employing various behavioral and hardware technologies when training animals and teaching animal trainers. Signal technologies (providing discriminative stimuli, called “cues”) included acoustic (sonic and supersonic frequencies), radio, microwave, LASER and other visual signal devices. ABE programs studied animal olfaction, vision (color, grayscale, sensitivity, resolution, flicker-fusion, etc), hearing, and tactile stimuli (sensitivity). Animals were trained in terrestrial, aerial, and aquatic (including marine) environments.

ABE’s commercial clients included most of the major American theme parks, as well as a number of zoological parks, including the San Diego Zoo, Forest Park Zoo (TX), and the Swope Park Zoo (MO). ABE also developed biological systems for the USA and other governments. ABE began teaching science-based animal training procedures in the late 1940s, and Bailey continues to develop behavioral systems and teach animal trainers and other behavior technologists around the world, nearly 70 years later. He was awarded the Doctor of Science Degree (Sc.D. with full academic rank, equivalent to Ph.D., the first since 1947) from the University of Central Arkansas in 2013 for his work in chemistry, and for his pioneering research and development of hardware and biological systems.