Executive Vice President, Animal Care and Training
Ken Ramirez develops and supervises animal care programs, staff training and development as well as public presentation programs for the entire animal collection at Shedd Aquarium. He joined Shedd in 1989.
A 35+ year veteran of zoological animal care and training, Ramirez is a biologist and animal behaviorist who served nine years at Marineworld of Texas. He was also a trainer and coordinator at Ocean Safari in South Padre Island, Texas, as well as a consultant to many zoo and aquarium programs throughout the world.
Ramirez began his training career working with guide dogs for the visually impaired and has maintained a close affiliation to pet training throughout his career. Ramirez has also hosted two seasons of the pet training television series, Talk to the Animals, which compared pet training to the important work done with training and caring for animals in zoological facilities. He also worked closely with several search-and-rescue-dog organizations as well as with bomb- and narcotic-detecting dogs.
Ramirez has been active in several professional organizations, including the International Marine Animal Trainer’s Association (IMATA), of which he is a past president, and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network, where he served on the board of directors for nearly 15 years. He also has served on the board of the American Cetacean Society. Ramirez is actively involved in the creation of a certification process for animal trainers in zoo settings. He is also on the faculty of the annual Karen Pryor Clicker Expos, which are designed to introduce advances in positive reinforcement to the world.
Ramirez has written for several scientific publications, including Marine Mammals: Public Display and Research and Soundings, the IMATA quarterly. He teaches a graduate course on animal training at Western Illinois University and has authored the book Animal Training: Successful Animal Management through Positive Reinforcement, which is used by students of animal behavior and training around the world.