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People news: Renowned animal care expert joins Utica Zoo

UTICA, N.Y. — The Utica Zoo announced it has appointed Jay Pratte as the organization’s new director of animal care, conservation, and education.

Pratte is internationally known for his training, enrichment, and welfare work with species across the globe, the zoo says in a release. He has been an animal caregiver for over three decades, focusing on behavioral management and welfare standards. Positive-reinforcement training of carnivores has been his historic specialty, teaching complex medical and research behaviors. Pratte has trained animals for the film industry and has provided expert care for animals in game farms, sanctuaries, and AZA-accredited zoos, with species ranging from ant colonies to giant pandas.

Recently, Pratte’s consulting work has found him striving to improve the conditions for animals in traveling circuses and shows, as well as in “roadside” facilities providing substandard care. Pratte has drafted numerous expert reports and declarations, assisting organizations dedicated to aiding animals that endure inexpert management. He is recognized as an expert federal witness in animal behavior, husbandry and welfare, working with authorities and legal teams to consistently earn favorable judgements in federal and state courts. He is dedicated to collaborating with other individuals and organizations on improving the lives of animals, providing consulting and leadership experience to local and international communities.

“The introduction of Jay to the Utica Zoo team is the next step in the Zoo’s quest to meet our potential,” Andria Heath, Utica Zoo’s executive director, said. “His leadership and experience will enable us to meet the goal of premiere animal welfare, continued habitat and grounds improvement, maintaining AZA accreditation, professional development for our great staff and volunteer team, exciting additions to our collection plan and more.”


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