EATM in the News!

Below are some recent articles, news events and TV clips about the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program..


March 7, 2010

A rare butterfly takes flight on the Palos Verdes Peninsula

March 7, 2010  - Los Angeles Times -- Conservationists watched in awe as 80 endangered Palos Verdes blue butterflies, each bred in captivity, venture into the wild for the first time. It's a step toward saving the insect from extinction.

A rare blue butterfly took flight Saturday morning March 7, 2010 on a wind-swept bluff of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Then another. And then another.
A cluster of conservationists watched in awe. In all, 80 endangered butterflies, each bred in captivity, ventured into the wild for the first time.
It was a big step toward saving the Palos Verdes blue butterfly from extinction. The peninsula had been its only home on the planet until 20th century development bulldozed its habitat.
"I'm just ecstatic to be here," biologist Jana Johnson told the gathering moments before the cobalt-blue butterflies were set free in a gully of San Pedro's Friendship Park.
"Take a look around," she said, nodding toward hillsides covered with homes overlooking the ocean and the Los Angeles Basin.
"It was wiped out by us. So it's our job to undo the past wrongs."
The Palos Verdes blue is finicky, so it took conservationists a few years to prepare for its return to the park by landscaping slopes just to its liking. The thumbnail-size butterfly lays its eggs on just two kinds of plants: locoweed and deerweed. Their leaves are the only things its larvae can eat after hatching.
The butterfly's life is short, typically five or 10 days. Because there is so little time for reproduction, butterfly keepers thought it best to release 60 males and 20 females.
"We wanted to have the maximum probability of getting mated," said Travis Longcore, science director of the Urban Wildlands Group.
The instant they were let out of their clear plastic cups, many of the butterflies opted first for food. They fluttered to the nearest sunflower shrub, uncurled their tiny snouts and started sucking up nectar from the yellow blossoms.
The butterflies' new Friendship Park habitat is its third in the wild since it was rescued from the brink of extinction in 1994.
A sighting that year at a military fuel depot in San Pedro marked the first time in more than a decade that anyone had spotted a Palos Verdes blue.
Since then, thousands have been bred in captivity, many of them at Moorpark College in Ventura County, and released each year at this time.
"It was kind of like back from the dead -- resurrection," Longcore said.
The first habitat to be restored was at the fuel depot, where the butterflies' estimated population has dipped as low as 30 but risen as high as 282.
The second restored habitat was a few miles away at the Chandler Preserve, where the Palos Verdes blue was reintroduced last year. Biologists recently learned that the butterflies returned to the preserve on their own this season.
For the Friendship Park habitat, conservationists scattered the butterflies' favorite plants around eight acres.
Multiple habitats supporting "a series of little populations" are the key to its survival, Johnson said.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, who released one of the butterflies into the L.A. County park, told the conservationists that he was pleased to hear there were now as many as 10,000, even if most are still in captivity.
"Those butterflies really know how to party," he said. "Two hundred to 10,000 -- man, they have a good time."
Still, biologists say it will take years to get enough Palos Verdes blues surviving on their own in the wild to have them removed from the federal list of endangered species.

March 2, 2010 ---  Exotic Animal Training & Management (EATM) Complex   Groundbreaking

Contact: Clare Geisen, Director, Administrative Relations, 805.652.5504 or

Moorpark College will hold a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday, March 2, at 3:00 p.m. for its EATM Complex located at 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark.

Upon completion, the EATM Complex will consist of a two-story, 12,400 square foot building with classrooms, offices, and an auditorium facility to be used mainly by EATM students and
replace modular facilities that have been utilized since the inception of the EATM program. The Complex has been designed to deviate somewhat from standard campus buildings because of the nature of its use, not only for students, but also for public access to the Zoo. The facility will house two classrooms, one vet lab, a 100-seat auditorium, and faculty/staff offices. A bus unloading area is being installed to permit a drop-off area for local school children who visit the
facility. Funding for this project is being provided through Measure S Bond funds, and the project team includes Steven Ehrlich Architects, construction manager Heery International, and general contractor Vratsinas Construction Company. Occupancy is tentatively scheduled for April 2011.

The groundbreaking ceremony will include the Ventura County Community College District Board of Trustees, Chancellor, Moorpark College President, employees, and students. The ceremony is open to the public, and free parking is available.

September 2007

In 2006, the zoo received Palos Verdes blue butterflies. Based on the early success of that program, it now hosts the Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly, a species from the San Francisco Bay region.

The five Lange butterflies, collected from the wild in September, have already produced 241 eggs,
said project coordinator Jana Johnson. Found only on the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, 40 miles northeast of San Francisco, Lange’s Metalmark Butterfly is experiencing a dramatic population decline of unknown cause. Suspected factors include invasion of the habitat by non-native plants, and harvesting of the butterfly’s only plant host, the buckwheat, for camp fires. Partners for the current effort include the The Urban Wildlands Group, Inc., the Antioch Dunes National Wildlife Refuge, the U.S. Fish Wildlife Service (Sacramento), University of California Riverside, the Zoological Society of San Diego’s Native Seed Gene Bank, and Osborne Biological Consulting.

America's Teaching Zoo on "The Futures Channel".

Click this link for the Futures Channel article.


Mastercard Commercial - Elephant trained by EATM graduate.
February 2007


Palos Verdes Blue - Butterfly Information
February 2007


Articles about the EATM "Butterfly Project"... January 2007


Article about a new baby camel at America's Teaching Zoo.

Ventura County Star - September 2, 2006


Article from the Denver Post - Published August 29, 2006


Denver Post - Colorado Kids


July 2006
For the second time in just five years, America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College has received national media attention. In 2001, Moorpark 24/7, a 15-episode documentary for Animal Planet, aired on the Discovery Channel. The highly-watched chronicle of the arduous life of an Exotic Animal Training and Management (EATM) student was produced by independent filmmakers Tapestry International. Moorpark24/7 is still running in Europe.

In June 2006 Penguin Books published "Kicked, Bitten and Scratched", another in-depth look at the students in the EATM program by writer Amy Sutherland. This chronicle is dramatic as the writer’s approach was to focus on the emotional response of the students as they absorb the knowledge they need to be compassionate and informed animal care providers. The book has received positive reviews from Booklist and Publisher’s Weekly who describe Kicked, Bitten and Scratched as a magical and fascinating tour of a program and note that readers will acquire a new and enhanced respect for animal training, a little known profession.

EATM staff acknowledge that the book addresses some realities of studying at the Teaching Zoo, like having to say goodbye to a dying, elderly animal, and the tedium of cleaning excrement from dozens of enclosures on a daily basis.

“EATM staff thoroughly prepare students for the animal care and welfare industry,” said Holly Tumas, zoo operations assistant and program spokesperson. “Students participate in the best care possible that is provided to the animal collection through diverse behavioral enrichment, proper nutrition, mental and physical stimulation as well as husbandry training. The Zoo’s veterinarian Dr.Cynthia Stringfield provides excellent medical care year-round.”