Dangers of being a Dolphin Trainer!

Are you SURE you want to do this work????? Trainers have been injured and killed, working with orcas, dolphins, seals and sea lions. Even more have been killed working with other exotic animals – especially elephants, but also including bears, and big cats, such as lions, tigers, jaguars, mountain lions or pumas, and leopards.

click here for DANGERS and CHALLENGES

If you are still interested in working directly with marine mammals or other exotic animals…

READ THIS CAREFULLY, FIRST: Below is a “WebQuest” which is a self-contained online lesson for high-school level students. LINKS are BLUE (GREEN if already visited)

The subject: Landing a job as a dolphin trainer.

This WebQuest helps YOU to answer 2 questions:
• DO YOU WANT to do this? Follow links to find job requirements, salaries, working conditions and career options
• CAN YOU get the job? Successfully compete for the job YOU WANT.


When writing, ditch cutesy emails and use your real name. Capitalize correctly, use standard English and correct grammar. Every interaction is a possible interview. Make the most of it and respect yourself and others in your interactions – be professional. If you want an answer, take the time to write intelligibly.

• Other people are busy making their own dreams come true. They will not do the work to make yours come true.

• The competition is fierce and the animals deserve the best. If you are up to the challenge, get to work and get out there. If you are not, stay home and stay comfortable.

• Be careful what you wish for. I worked for years with no heat in the winter, no cooling in the summer, very long hours, very jumbled schedules, very low pay, and the constant aroma of fish, even at home.

I have had wonderful adventures with amazing animals. I have swum with dolphins, whales, seals and sea lions (and other animals as well). I have watched them have their babies and rear them, court one another, and die while I kept vigil. I have had them come to me in pain, with problems, with news, with jokes. I have kept daily company with aliens from our planet – people of other nations, fellow travelers, and I have been informed by their wisdom, courage, generosity, humor and the gift of their unique perspectives and abilities. I wouldn’t trade it for any other experience I can imagine earning or buying. I don’t want you to the get the job unless you deserve it, and will be the best possible ambassador between our people and theirs…

Only you have the power to make your dreams come true. Use the guideposts below to start your journey to create your own destiny. Is it your DREAM?? Then make it your reality!

May you create a masterpiece of your life! May others bless your path.

Kayce Cover
PS: click here for free directions for starting animals on bridges and targets and get a head start on training animals, as some of the best professionals do. Send your first and last name, email and the word “SATS”, and directions will be emailed to you.


Be a Dolphin Trainer!

Plotting Your Dream Career: a Web Quest for biology careers; Please work through Web Quest before writing with questions!


| Task | Process | Evaluation
| Conclusion
Webquest Archives


What career do you want to have? Do you want to be active and engaged in your work and not be stuck behind a desk? What kind of lifestyle do you want? Consider being a dolphin trainer! Before choosing a college, a major, or a job route, take some time to figure out how to make your career dreams come true. In this Webquest, discover how to land a one-in-a-million job – learn how to become an exotic animal trainer!


Landing a job in the exotic animal training field is not easy, but you can use this Web Quest to find all the information you’ll need to be ahead of the rest of the pack. To succeed, you will need to write a job description, describe your preparation process, identify proper employment training facilities and programs, plan your job search, and learn about the animals you hope to train. At the end of this lesson you will be fully prepared to pursue and earn your position in this dynamic field.

Training Marine Mammals


There are a number of steps you will need to take in order to complete this task:

* This is an individual assignment (and tailored to your specific career goals), so be sure to organize information so that it will be useful to you later.
* Acquaint yourself with the five major objectives of this assignment.
* Write a job description.
* Describe your preparation process.
* Plan your schooling.
* Plan your job search.
* List your animal’s characteristics.
* Review the grading rubric in the evaluation section. (for WebQuest assignments)
* These questions can help you focus your research.
* Be aware that a single resource may have answers to more than one question.
* Organize your findings so that the information is easy to access and follow
(you could use a table, outline, list, etc.).

Write a job description:

Why be a trainer?

  • HIA: Bridge and Target Training, Beyond Behavior Modification

What does it pay?

What kinds of trainers are there?

Describe preparation process:

What are the skills and abilities required?

What physical condition do trainers need to be in?

  • Skills for Animal Trainers

Plan your Schooling:

Where can you go for training and apprenticeship?

Plan your job search:

Who offers the jobs?

What professional organizations might be of help/interest to you?

Learn something about the animals you would be training.

  • Save the Whales – information on bottlenose dolphins
  • Sea World – information on bottlenose dolphins

What is the scientific name of the animal?
What are the physical characteristics of the animal?

What are the habitat preferences of the animal?

What are any special adaptations/sensory capabilities of the animal?
Additional References

  • Allen, Sonny. “Proceedings of the International Marine Animal Trainers
    Association Conference”. November 4-8, 1991. Compiled by Kathy Rose.
  • Hediger, H. “Wild Animals in Captivity”. Dover Publications, Inc.
    New York. 1964.
  • Marshall, Anthony D. “Zoo: Profiles of 102 Zoos, Aquariums, and Wildlife
    Parks in the United States”. Random House. New York. 1994.
  • Schusterman, Ronald J., Jeanette A. Thomas, and Forrest G. Wood, eds. “Dolphin Cognition and Behavior: A Comparative Approach”. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers. New Jersey. 1986.
  • Wood, Forrest G. “Marine Mammals and Man: The Navy’s Porpoises and Sea Lions”. Robert B. Luce, Inc. New York. 1973.

    You will be graded on an individual basis. The minimal requirements are shown and will earn you one point per objective. Further contributions and requirements are necessary to earn you more points. Your teacher will use the “score” column to record your earned points. Maximum score is 25 points.

    A Minimal
    B Adequate
    3 pt
    C Optimal
    5 pts
    Write a
    job description
    contents of job.
    A plus list average pay.
    A + B plus
    list perks and job conditions.
    preparation process
    List the
    non-academic job preparation requirements.
    A plus name your plan of attack.
    A + B plus make a preparation schedule (time line of goals).
    Plan your
    Find out
    which institutions offer programs and how most trainers prepare.
    A plus outline the differences between those programs.
    A + B plus choose a program. Explain your choice.
    Plan your
    job search
    where to find job listings.
    A plus identify which institutions/facilities have the animals and will
    hire trainers.
    A + B plus identify professional organizations available to trainers.
    of animal attributes
    the most common captive dolphin and its scientific name, physical characteristics,
    and diet.
    A plus identify pod structure, mating season, and natural habitat description.
    A + B plus describe echolation (how is information emitted and received),
    and other aquatic adaptations.



    Congratulations! You have now created your own resource for pursuing your dream career as a dolphin trainer! You know what kind of job you are looking for, how to prepare for it, where to find the job, and how to interact with and care for the animals you work with. Hopefully, you have also encountered other questions – you can always go back to many of these resources for further and more detailed information. Keep in mind throughout your career that some of the most important questions may never be concretely answered: Why do you want to train? What goals do you set for yourself? How can you improve? These questions will continue
    to push you forward.

    to top

    For other Web Quests, click here.

    Syn Alia logo is property of Kayce Cover, Syn Alia Training Systems.



    Copyright 2004 by Syn Alia Training Systems ®