The Exotic Animal Training and Management (EATM) Program was established as a major at Moorpark College in 1974. Bill "Briz" Brisby, a Professor at Moorpark College, started the program with one animal - "Kiska", the wolf. Additional animals were slowly added, and the "Lower Compound" was constructed (located near the current football stadium), to house all the animals. This first compound was quite dusty, had no landscaping, and would flood in the rains. As the college made more of a commitment to the program, a new location was found.

In 1990, the EATM Compound was moved to its current location, on a 5 acre site overlooking all of the Moorpark College campus. Animal enclosures were built, and new enclosures are always being constructed. The animal collection has gradually increased over the years as animals were acquired through donations and breeding loans from major zoos and research centers. This extraordinary collection has included exotic animals ranging from Marmosets to an Asian Elephant, Leopard Geckos to Alligators, Turacos to Emus. We currently have a Bengal Tiger, African Lioness, Spotted Hyena, Mountain Lions, a wide variety of Primates, Birds, and many, many other exotic and endangered animals. New animals are continuously being acquired, as space arises.

As the animal collection grew, so did the program. New courses were developed and enrollment increased. The present animal collection, is maintained on a five-acre facility on the Moorpark College campus called  "America's Teaching Zoo".

Students in the Exotic Animal Training and Management program are required to be at America's Teaching Zoo most days, including weekends when we are open to the public. This requirement is in addition to the long hours and days spent working with and caring for the animals, and attending classes. Our Zoo has about 130 different animals at any time, and the students are responsible for most of the care, feeding and well-being of the animals, under close faculty and staff supervision. Responsibility is a key commitment to this program. Graduates of the EATM program are working all over the world, in many different situations involving animals. They are training dolphins and other marine mammals, doing conservation work, training animals for television and films, working at zoos and theme parks, and many other animal jobs.

Explore the links to the left. They should answer many of the questions you have about the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program here at Moorpark College. Information about how to apply, frequently asked questions, and an application are available online. Feel free to send us an e-mail if you have specific questions.

Timeline.... (Always under Construction)
The Exotic Animal Training and Management Program

(If you are an EATM graduate, and wish to help us write this History of the Program, please send us an e-mail with your experiences and/or historical additions to the timeline. Thanks..!!)

Moorpark College opens...

New Program created.... called the "Institute for Wild and Exotic Animal Studies"... this was to become the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program.
First animal "Kiska" a Gray Wolf acquired..... Lower Compound construction began.

EATM became a major at Moorpark College...Associate of Science Degrees are awarded to program graduates.

Here is a copy of a magazine article from US Magazine in March 1980. EATM - Magazine Article

EATM Compound moved from lower location (near the football stadium), to the current 5 acre site on the ridge-line overlooking the Moorpark College campus.  
This was where the former "Equine" program was located, before it was discontinued.

First Spring Spectacular (one weekend long) - 2 shows - "Back to the Future" & "Animal in Action".

Second Spring Spectacular -

Third Spring Spectacular -

January - The Northridge Earthquake hits just after 4am.
Spring - 4th Annual Spring Spectacular (increased to 2 weekends long) - "Aladdin's Animal Adventure".

March - Fifth Annual Spring Spectacular - "The Wild Kingdom".
"Moose" the EATM Nightwatch dog arrives...rescued from an animal shelter...

March - Sixth Annual Spring Spectacular - "Around the World in 40 Minutes or so".

March - 7th Annual Spring Spectacular - "The Fork in the Road".
August - Chuck Brinkman starts as EATM Counselor.
October 16, 1997 - Chad, the African Lion - the last of Brisby's animals, passes away.
Fall 1997 - El Nino winter - very wet with lots of rain and mud.

March - 8th Annual Spring Spectacular - "Animal Channels".
May - 38 students graduate from the EATM Program.
Summer 1998 - the parking lot in front of the EATM compound and all the way to the Music building is paved - it was previously all dirt from EATM to the Music/Performing Arts building. Zoo is without water for 2 weeks during paving.

March - 9th Annual Spring Spectacular - "Zoomanji".
May - 40 students graduate from the EATM Program.

Filming of the TV Series "Moorpark 24/7 starts.
March/April - 10th Annual Spring Spectacular - "If the Last Tree Falls".
(Spring Spectacular increased to 3 weekends long)
May - 51 students graduate from the EATM Program.
10 year anniversary since the EATM Compound moved to the current location.

March - 11th Annual Spring Spectacular - "2001 - an Animal Odyssey".
May - 48 students graduate from the EATM Program.
Fall - Animal Planet series "Moorpark 24/7" airs. Filmed at America's Teaching Zoo during the past year.

March - 12th Annual Spring Spectacular - "Furry Tales".
May - 36 students graduate from the EATM Program
June - Marmoset Trailer goes away - Marmosets relocated to Primate Gardens, and eventually to their own enclosure in Maintenance area.
July - "Lulu" the Dromedary Camel has a baby at the EATM Compound.. a very cute baby.
July - "Schmoo" the Sea Lion's tank is converted to Salt Water.
September - "Delores" the ocelot - passes away.
November - "Yoda" the ring-tailed lemur passes away.
California under quarantine for Newcastle Disease, which affects birds. So no birds in or out of the zoo for about a year.

March 13 - "Robert" or Bob the Water Buffalo as he was affectionately known, passed away.
March 29 - "Luna" the red-ruffed lemur passes away.
April - 13th Annual Spring Spectacular - "A Pirates Tale"......Arggggg...!!
May - 51 students graduate from the EATM Program
September - California Newcastle Disease quarantine lifted..
October - Wildfire forces evacuation of Zoo and animals - facility undamaged, but surrounding hills completely burned.
2 animals (Kermit, the Noble Macaw and Tango,the Arctic Fox) die due to fire stress-related issues.
December - "Walter" the baby Water Buffalo & "Dunny" the Scottish Highland Cow arrive.

April - 14th Annual Spring Spectacular - "Welcome to the Jungle"'s Amazing...!!!!
May - 45 students graduate from the EATM Program

Winter - 2nd wettest year in California history..!!! All animals and students have a wet winter.
March - 15th Annual Spring Spectacular - "Animals in Wonderland".
May - 49 students graduate from the EATM Program...!!!
These students have found jobs at such places as; San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Cincinnatti Zoo, National Aquarium (Baltimore), Sea World - San Diego, Deer Mountain Eagle Center (Ketchikan, Alaska) ...
September - Fires again..!!! On the far side of Simi Valley - no zoo evacuations necessary.

March - 16th Annual Spring Spectacular - "Peter Pan and the Perils of a Pixie".
May - 47 students graduate from the EATM program.
June 2006 - Book about a year at the EATM Program "Kicked, Bitten and Scratched", is published.
July - "Back road" paved...!!! And new drainage system installed.
September - "Moose" the EATM Nightwatch dog passes away. Thanks Jason, for giving him a good home, these past years after he left EATM.
October - 20 year reunion of the EATM class of 1986 takes place at America's Teaching Zoo.
New EATM Building plans going through approval process - Construction bids to be awarded in Summer 2008... a 13,000 square foot building, with classrooms, laboratories, offices, and other uses.

Drought - one of the driest winters on record - looks to be a bad fire season coming for Southern California.
Spring - Gary Wilson & Chuck Brinkman on Sabbatical during the Spring 2007.
Jamie Williams starts work at America's Teaching Zoo.
March - 17th Annual Spring Spectacular - "Indiana Jones and the Quest for the Sacred Animal".
May - 44 students graduate from the EATM Program.
October - fires again threaten the Moorpark area - most animals evacuated as a precaution. Fires do not reach the college, so animals return after 2 days.
New EATM Building Construction plans being finalized - construction to begin in 2009 - (estimate) - the EATM Program will have new classrooms, Laboratories, and offices.....
      existing buildings to be remodeled after completion of new structure.. Construction estimated to take 15+ months...

Finally some rain falls in the Moorpark area - the hills surrounding the college begin to turn green.
March - 18th Annual Spring Spectacular - "A Fairy Tale".
April - Alisa Behar starts work at America's Teaching Zoo.
May 9th - 46 students graduate from the EATM Program.....
       Graduates have found jobs at - Marineland of Canada, MGM in Las Vegas, Disney's Discovery Kingdom in Florida, Sea World in San Diego, Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut,
       the U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program in San Diego, Have Trunk Will Travel in Temecula California, and many other Animal facilities...
May - Reggie, the Abyssinian Ground Hornbill passes away, after a long life..he came to us from the San Diego Wild Animal Park, many years ago.
June - Nutrition area remodeled... new floor & paint & counters. A "dry food storage" container is acquired, and all dry food is relocated out of Nutrition to this storage area. A "Temporary Nutrition" is set up in Zoo-1 classroom, during the remodel.
August - 52 new students begin the EATM Program.
October - the Sesnon fire in the San Fernando Valley a cause for concern - Zoo put on fire alert for 2 days.
December - 1st Annual Arctic Lights event - 9 tons of snow delivered..!!!

January - Jamie Williams gets married, and leaves America's Teaching Zoo for a new life in San Diego.
Hamilton, the Yucatan mini-pig, passes away.
Spring - New EATM building construction began...Front gate will be relocated and groundbreaking will happen soon, for the building.
March - 19th Annual Spring Spectacular.... "Parrots of the Caribbean". Record attendance..!!!

New EATM Building design

Artist drawing of the new EATM building.

35th year anniversary of the EATM major at Moorpark College.
The Exotic Animal Training and Management Program has been educating Animal Trainers for 35 years...!!!
April - Schmoo, the California Sea Lion, spends some time at Sea World San Diego - with a medical issue.
May 8, 2009 -- 50 students graduate from the EATM Program.
Graduates have jobs at; Out of Africa-Arizona, Six Flags Discovery Kingdom-California, Predators in Action-California, Shedd Aquarium-Chicago Illinois, MGM Grand-Lion Habitat-Las Vegas, Colombia Zoo-Colombia, U.S. Navy-San Diego California, and more.
HUGE budget crunch in California - the Community College system will have some lean years ahead...
Summer -- New building construction getting underway - Happy (the American Alligator) has his pool relocated, and new front gate installed in preparation for new EATM building construction.
August 10, 2009 -- 52 new students start the EATM Program
August 2009 -- Mandy Lansing-Stangeland hired, as Zoo Operations assistant
September 22-25 -- FIRES AGAIN..!!! For the 3rd time in the past 6 years, Wildfires burn the hills behind Moorpark College. No animals are evacuated, but most of the birds are put in crates and moved into the classrooms, out of the smoke. Zoo is put on fire alert, but no evacuation is necessary.
October 13, 2009 -- the first Rain falls in a long time... nice to have some wet weather for a few days.
October 21, 2009 --- Schmoo, the California Sea Lion, passes away...
        After 30+ years at America's Teaching Zoo, and teaching hundreds of students how to work with and train Marine Mammals. We will really miss her.
November/December 2009 -- several older animals at EATM pass away.
December -- The 2nd Annual Artic Lights event - brings in 11 tons of snow.

January 2010 - Legend, the Gray Wolf, & the remaining 3 Suffolk Sheep - pass away
January 18-22 2010 - a WET week. Moorpark College receives over 5 inches of rain this week.
March 2 - Groundbreaking held for new EATM building. (Drawing above)
20 year Anniversary of the EATM Compound at the current location.
20th Annual Spring Spectacular - March 13/14, 20/21, 27/28 of 2010.    "Blazing Saddle" (Cuz we only got one horse...)
April - Harrison, the Harris Hawk, passes away.
May 14, 2010 -- 50 students graduate from the EATM Program. Graduates have jobs with; U.S. Navy Marine Mammal program in San Diego, Universal Studies - Hollywood, San Diego Wild Animal Park and San Diego Zoo, Lincoln's Children's Zoo in Lincoln Nebraska, Discovery Kingdom - Vallejo CA, Phoenix Zoo - AZ, Great Plains Zoo - Sioux Falls SD, Zoo-to-You, National Aviary - Pittsburgh PA... and many more exciting places...!!!
June --- Junior Safari Summer Camp begins
June - New EATM Building construction is moving along - foundations poured.
August 9 - 52 new students arrive to begin the EATM Program.... the EATM Class of 2012.
August 16 - Fall classes begin at Moorpark College
August - Class of 1990 EATM graduates hold their 20 year class reunion at the zoo.
September - New building construction proceeding nicely.
September 3, 2010 - Laramie, the Golden Eagle passes away.
         Laramie arrived at America's Teaching Zoo on April 29, 1977, from the US Fish and Wildlife Service. (Her estimated date of birth was March 1, 1974.)
         She was 36 years old, and will be greatly missed. She helped teach many hundreds of students during her life here at America's Teaching Zoo.
October 30 & 31 - Boo at the Zoo - a VERY successful event.
December 18 & 19 - 3rd Annual Arctic Lights event - 9+ tons of snow delivered...!!!
December - a VERY WET month - the Moorpark area gets over 10 inches of rain this month.

January 3 - Rowdy, the Striped Skunk, passes away.
January 10 - Two, New Guinea Singing Dogs arrive.
March 26, 27, April 2, 3, 9, 10 -- 21st Annual Spring Spectacular -- "Once Upon a Twisted Tale"
April 5 - Banjo, the Blue & Gold Macaw, passes away.
May 6 - Kisu, the Mountain Lion, passes away. Both these animals will be sincerely missed.
May 13, 2011 - 44 students graduate from the EATM Program.
May - Hazel, a new Coyote, arrives at the zoo.
June 14 - Taj, the Bengal Tiger, passes away. We will all miss her "chuffing" here at the zoo.
June - the Sheep and llamas are sheared.
July - America's Teaching Zoo gets a NEW 12 passenger van for Zoo use.
August - Mazoe, the African Serval, passes away.
August 15, 2011 - 52 new students arrive to begin the EATM program.
A new Striped Skunk arrived - named "Dozer".
New computers arrived - for the Student Learning lab.
September/October - both the EATM laminator and copy machine died... and were replaced.
October - The yearly "Davis Field Trip" went smoothly.
October 20 - Iggy, one of the Swainsons Toucans - passes away
Boo at the Zoo - October 29 & 30 was VERY successful.
November 4 - Alan Mootnick, friend of the EATM Program, a self-taught primate specialist,gibbon expert and conservationist who founded the Gibbon Conservation Center in Santa Clarita to help          protect the endangered species and freely shared advice with zoos, veterinarians and rescue operations around the world, passes away.
November 14 - Nuez, the Agouti - passes away.
November/December - some very WINDY weather in Southern California.
December - Arctic Lights event - December 3 & 4 - with 11 tons of snow delivered... great fun.

New EATM building is DONE..!! And it is AMAZING..!
Classes are held in the new building for Spring 2012 - starting January 9, 2012.
January 2012 - the "San Diego Field trip" -- January 2-6, 2012
February - Workdays on February 17 & 20 - to prepare for Spring Spectacular
Spring Spectacular- March 24, 25, 31, April 1, 7 & 8 of 2012
May 14, 2012 - 51 students graduate from the EATM program.
Junior Zoo - Summer Camp -- June 18 thru August 10
Friday August 10, 2012 -- 52 new students arrive to start the EATM program --- the Class of 2014
Thursday August 11, 2012 - Rendezvous at the Zoo -- the first evening fundraiser at the Zoo.
Thursday August 16 -- Fall classes begin at Moorpark College
October 21-26 -- Northern California Field Trip - 2nd year students
October 27-28 -- Boo at the Zoo event
December 1-2 -- Arctic Lights event at the Zoo. 10 tons of snow delivered, for guests and animals to play in.
December 17-21 --- San Diego field trip - 2nd year students.

Monday January 14, 2013 - Spring classes begin at Moorpark College
Saturday January 19 -- EATM Staff clean the Zoo day.
Spring Spectacular 2013 -- March 23, 24, 30, 31, April 6, 7
Projects weeks - 2nd year students -- April 13 thru May 12
EATM Graduation - May 13, 2013 -- 49 students graduate from the EATM program
Junior Zoo - Summer Camp -- June 17 thru August 9
Monday August 12, 2013 -- 52 students arrive to begin the EATM program - the Class of 2015
Thursday October 10 - Rendezvous at the Zoo -- 2nd Annual evening fundraising event
October 21-26 -- Northern California field trip - 2nd years.
December - Arctic Lights - 11 tons of snow delivered - great fun...!

January - Windy weather here at America's Teaching Zoo.
February - The San Diego Field trip - 2nd year students visit; The Living Desert in Palm Spring, the San Diego Zoo, The San Diego Safari Park, The U.S. Navy Marine Mammal Program,
       Sea World San Diego, Have Trunk Will Travel, and several other exciting places..!
March-April - Spring Spectacular 2014 -- Abra-catastrophe...!
May 12 - 38 students graduate from the EATM Program
Very dry winter - California is in a SERIOUS drought - only 5 inches of rain falls this season.
Junior Zoo Safari Summer Camp -- June 16 thru August 8
July - Nutrition renamed -- new name is "Commissary".
August 11 - 51 students arrive to start the EATM Program - the Class of 2016
August 18 - Fall 2014 classes begin at Moorpark College
October 9 - 3rd Annual Rendezvous at the Zoo evening event - very fun...!
October 19-24 - Northern California field trip - 2nd year students visit many different animal facilities in Northern and Central California.
October 25-26 - Boo at the Zoo event
December 6-7 -- 11 tons of snow delivered to the zoo.

Another dry winter - California drought continues.
March-April - 25th annual Spring Spectacular --- "Trouble in Zoopolis".  Animal Superheroes save the day.
May 11 - 41 students graduate from the EATM program - the Class of 2015
June-August - Summer Junior Safari Zoo Camp -- very fun
August 10 -- 51 students arrive to begin the EATM Program - the Class of 2017
October 8 - 4th Annual Rendezvous at the Zoo - the best one ever..!
December 19 - 12 tons of snow delivered to the Zoo

January 5 - finally, some good rain here in Southern California....!


Historical Photos


bill brisby circa 1981

Bill Brisby, foreground - Diane Brisby, Lynne Doria, Leslie Pontell in the background.
Spring Circus - approximately 1981, at the old (lower) compound.


duchess circa 1981

Duchess, one of the horses in the Equine Program at Moorpark College, 1981. This program was eliminated and the EATM program moved to this site. The building on the left in the photo above is the current EATM Hay Barn. This arena was on the current "Primate Gardens" site...!!


ron and luke in spring of 1982

Ron and Luke, near the entrance to the Equine Program - Spring 1982. This area is now the front gate of America's Teaching Zoo. Moorpark College buildings can be seen in the top right of the photo.

(photos above courtesy Candy Lidstrom)


Briz, Lesley, Gary - 1985

Bill Brizby, Leslie Pontell and Gary Wilson - walking across campus- April 1985

rev. c4