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What You'll Study
  • Commissary design, operations, and management
  • Nutrient and energy metabolism of zoo and wild animals
  • Practical principles of feeding a wide variety of animals across all taxa
  • Diet formulation and evaluation
  • Problem-solving strategies to apply to your operation
  • How to develop a comprehensive clinical diet plan for an animal/species at your own institution

This course will be most relevant for:

  • Nutrition/animal science graduate students
  • Zoo keepers and curators
  • Commissary managers
  • Nutritionists
  • Veterinarians
  • Professionals with some previous background/experience in nutrition
Program Details

August 9-13, 2021

Available Formats

Professional Training (SMSC 0523, 3.75 CEUs)


Professional Training: $1922.00*

*Professionals from certain countries  are eligible for a reduced rate of $1355.50 which will automatically be reflected during the registration process.


Apply by June 14, 2021 for first consideration

Payment due by June 28, 2021

Meet the Faculty

Mike Maslanka
Head of Nutrition Science
Smithsonian's National Zoological Park
Mike chairs the Association of Zoos and Aquariums Nutrition Advisory Group, serves on the Zoo and Wildlife Nutrition Foundation board of directors, and advises several Species Survival Plans and Taxon Advisory Groups.
Erin Kendrick
Clinical Nutritionist
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Erin became clinical nutritionist at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo in 2012 and acts as nutrition advisor for the Ungulate, the Caprid, and the Old World Monkey Taxon Advisory Groups.
Barbara Toddes
Nutrition Program Director
Philadelphia Zoo
Barbara has worked in animal nutrition at the Philadelphia Zoo since 1984. She is the Species Survival Plan nutrition advisor for the Guam kingfisher, Geoffroy’s marmoset, and lesser slow loris.
Mike Power
Animal Scientist
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
Dr. Power considers himself an organismal biologist. Although his primary subject species are primates, Mike is more interested in topics/problems than any particular taxa. His approach focuses on the internal world of the animal (anatomy, physiology, and metabolism) rather than the external world (ecology, social structure, and behavior).
Sarra Gourlie
SCARF Wildlife Nutrition Resident
Toronto Zoo
Sarra Gourlie is currently the Sue Crissey Animal Nutrition Residency Fund (SCARF) Wildlife Nutrition Resident at the Toronto Zoo. She has had the opportunity to contribute tonutrition-related research projects, train staff and volunteers, evaluate species' diets, create feed items for clinical cases, and assist in commissary management.


Making nutritional decisions for a wide range of species and overseeing the daily management of food purchase, storage, and preparation is complex and demanding. Through a combination of class/lecture information and applied experiential learning, the course will focus on three main aspects of nutrition program management: clinical nutrition, commissary management, and applied thinking/philosophy. It is designed to share successful nutrition philosophies, sound science, and proven management approaches.

A full day will be spent at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, and will include behind-the-scenes tours of the commissary operation, elephants, and big cats. Field trips around SCBI’s Front Royal campus, where 21 species of endangered/threatened mammals and birds are managed, will also be included as part of the out-of-classroom learning experience.

What’s Included

Acceptance does not guarantee you a seat in the course. Seats are allocated as registration payments are received, and early registration is strongly encouraged to ensure you get a spot.

The total cost includes our Housing and Dining Package ($480) and covers:

  • Registration fees
  • Instruction, course manual, and other course materials
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off shuttle service at Dulles International Airport (IAD) at specific pre-arranged times. We do not provide ground transportation shuttle service to or from any other airports in the Washington, DC, region.
  • Transportation for course activities
  • Daily full-service buffet at the SMSC Dining Commons
  • Housing at the SMSC Residential Facility, including a shared room with bathroom (single rooms available at extra cost)

Interested in Commuting?

Participants with a documented, permanent address local to campus may elect to commute with permission from SMSC. Commuters may waive the housing and dining package but are required to purchase a reduced meal plan ($60) which includes lunch and snack breaks for each day of instruction. Additional dining options are available and may be selected during registration.  Email for additional information.

“The fog has lifted. I feel that I can go back to my zoo and make scientific based and informed changes to diets and know that I am meeting the nutritional needs of a species.”

Course Participant 2019

“For any zoo professionals out there who want to up their game in providing excellent care and nutritional management of their collections and facilities, I don’t think you’ll find a more information-packed educational opportunity out there than is available in this program.”

Robert Moore Veterinarian, Wildlife Conservation Society, New York, USA
Take the next step toward a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity