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Environmental Professionals Network

School of Environment and Natural Resources


What is Wild?! How intensive training practices for the African wild dog and cheetah are influencing wildlife management strategies around the world

Nov 9, 2022, 7:15am - 9:30am

Photo button from a collection of different images from the EPN November Breakfast

Program Overview

Join the EPN and the Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research and Education (CHAIRE) in Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences for a unique and engaging conversation on the influence and use of animal training for wildlife management. Two noteworthy examples our keynote speakers will discuss are the African wild dog (Lycaon pictus) and cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) currently managed through habituation projects led by the Madikwe Wildlife Foundation (South Africa) and by The Wilds (Ohio, USA).

What is Wild?! explores wildlife management strategies in intensive and extensive systems. Traditional wildlife management strategies, including those utilized at more intensive systems such as zoos, and more extensive systems of parks and reserves, can create undue stress on animals. Stressors on animals may include handling and restraint, interaction with unfamiliar humans, and medical procedures.

Intensive training strategies, including habituation, seek to reduce stress on game land animals for important management practices such as tagging, collaring, and translocating.

Locally, you can observe intensive training practices in Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources managed areas, including Public Hunting & Wildlife Areasas well as at The Wilds in Muskingum County, Ohio. Recently, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and The Wilds led the first successful in vitro fertilization reproduction in cheetah, a scientific and conservation feat that was possible due to prior animal training. Additionally, CHAIRE and The Wilds are studying the behavior of their wild dog population. A Worth Wild Africa expert will share how these training strategies for the African wild dog are also being implemented and studied at the South African National Park System and the Madikwe Game Reserve.


7:15 a.m. Doors open at 4-H Center; Coffee served for in-person attendees.  

7:40 a.m. Breakfast buffet served for in-person attendees.  

8:00 a.m. Livestreaming service begins for virtual attendees.   

8:10 a.m. Eric Toman, PhD, interim director, Ohio State’s School of Environment and Natural Resources (SENR) provides welcome remarks. 

8:15 a.m. The Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research and Education describes innovative strategies to achieve solutions to ecological, conservation and management problems through creative and collaborative scientific research.  

8:20 a.m. Intensive training practices for the cheetah and African wild dog by

Andrew Rae, Worth Wild Africa, South Africa

Dan Beetem, director of animal management, The Wilds, Ohio

9:00 a.m. Kendra Wecker, chief, Ohio Division of Wildlife, relates the topics to wildlife management in Ohio.

9:10 a.m. Audience Q & A session for both in-person and virtual audiences. 

9:30 a.m. Dr. Toman concludes the EPN Breakfast program component. Break and networking session for in-person guests. Livestreaming service concludes for virtual attendees.  


Headshot of EPN November speaker, Dan

Dan Beetem, Director of Animal Management, The Wilds

Dan Beetem directs animal management for The Wilds, a conservation breeding and research center created on nearly 10,000 acres of reclaimed surface mine land in southeastern Ohio. Scientific programs at The Wilds cover a range of disciplines, including restoration ecology, veterinary and conservation medicine, field ecology and animal management. His background in conservation includes over 30 years’ experience managing wild species in human care. He has worked at a variety of zoological institutions across the country, and he is familiar with the operation of traditional urban zoos and larger scale breeding centers and safari parks. He serves on several national level committees for the Taxon Advisory Groups that manage ungulate conservation programs for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. He also works with the Conservation Centers for Species Survival (C2S2) for population sustainability projects like the cheetah breeding center initiative and large herd management. His research interest is focused on the use assisted reproductive technology as a tool for the management of conservation breeding programs. Dan received his B.S. in Zoology from Michigan State University.

Headshot of EPN November speaker, Andrew Rae

Andrew Rae, Worth Wild Africa (South Africa)

Andrew Rae has been guiding safaris in both Southern and East Africa for the last 28 years. A South African by birth, his love affair with all things wild and African began at an early age. He has a National Diploma in Nature Conservation and is a licensed foot safari, rock art interpretation and nature/bird guide. The last 28 years has seen Andrew working in the Kruger lowveld, Eastern Cape Karoo, Botswana’s northern Tuli Game Reserve and most recently the region surrounding Mapungubwe National Park and World Heritage Site. Andrew (and his wife Moira) started their own exclusive safari company, RAE Safaris, in 2014 and have successfully led many uniquely tailored safaris to Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Madagascar, Uganda, Ethiopia and South Africa (among others).

Headshot of EPN November speaker, Kendra Wecker

Kendra Wecker, Chief, Ohio Division of Wildlife

Kendra Wecker was appointed Chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife by Mary Mertz, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, in January 2019. As Chief of the Division of Wildlife, Kendra Wecker oversees ODNR’s efforts to manage and conserve fish and wildlife populations on behalf of all Ohioans. Her previous positions include Wildlife Diversity Coordinator and Information and Education Executive Administrator. During her tenure, she has been the recipient of multiple awards, including Wildlife Conservationist of the Year from the League of Ohio Sportsmen. She was a member of the Ohio Biological Survey Board of Trustees from 2005 to 2016. In her free time, Kendra enjoys camping, fishing, and hunting with her family. She also enjoys attending her children’s sports activities and cheering on the Buckeyes. She received a B.S. in Zoology from Ohio State.


Additional Information

This event’s menu features apple and cinnamon overnight oats; spinach, roast red bell peppers, goat cheese frittata with onion jam; turkey sausage; sweet potato hash with fresh thyme; apple streusel coffee cake; and seasonal fruit will also be provided. Coffee, hot tea, orange juice, and water will be served. There will be plates, cups, woodware, and napkins. 

We strive to host events that are inclusive and accessible to everyone. If you have a disability and require accommodations to fully participate in this activity, please reach out to Callia Téllez ( Requests made five business days in advance will generally allow us to provide seamless access. However, we will make every effort to meet requests made after this time frame. You will be contacted by someone from our staff to discuss your specific needs. For the virtual audience, a closed captioning option via EPN’s YouTube live stream will be available, as well as other accommodations as requested on the registration.

Masks are optional for all event attendees at this event, in accordance with Ohio State’s Safe and Healthy Protocols as of this date. In-person attendees will be expected to follow Ohio State protocols regarding the prevention of COVID-19 transmission. More health and safety information available on this Personal Safety Practices page

This program will be livestreamed on the  EPN YouTube page. Additional information on livestream connections are available to those who register as a virtual participant for this event. 

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EPN Breakfast Series

The Environmental Professionals Network hosts a monthly breakfast series with compelling speakers on important innovative topics at the Nationwide and Ohio Farm Bureau 4-H Center on Ohio State’s campus - open to all!