behavioranalysishistory / Animal Behavior Enterprises
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Animal Behavior Enterprises

This page is part of the History of Animal Training and Behavior Analysis section. 


Animal Behavior Enterprises (ABE) was established in 1947 in Mound, Minnesota by Keller Breland and Marian Breland. Keller Breland and Marian Breland, both former students of B.F. Skinner, were interested in how the principles of behavior analysis and operant conditioning could be applied to animal training outside of the lab. ABE was the first commercial animal training business to intentionally and systematically incorporate the principles of behavior analysis and operant conditioning into animal training. ABE trained animals for commercial and entertainment purposes and at its largest, employed over 40 people. ABE’s commercial clients included a diverse range of businesses, such as U.S. theme parks, oceanariums, the government and military, and large commercial companies, such as General Mills.


In 1950, ABE moved to Hot Springs, Arkansas. Shortly there after, in 1955, the company opened the IQ Zoo, a popular tourist attraction, which also served as a laboratory for training and research projects. Although Keller Breland died in 1965, the business continued under the guidance of Marian Breland and later, Bob Bailey. Bob Bailey, previously Director of Animal Training for the U.S. Navy, was hired by Animal Behavior Enterprises in 1965, as Assistant Technical Director. Later, in 1976, he married Marian Breland. 


ABE finally closed its doors in 1990. Marian Breland Bailey died in 2001. Bob Bailey still lives in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He still conducts his famous chicken camps, where animal trainers learn about operant conditioning and training principles by training chickens. He also contracts with businesses and governments on training projects.  Click here for an interview with Bob Bailey. Bob Bailey recently produced a DVD about animal training, which is available here


Fun Facts:


  • ABE trained over 15,000 animals and over 150 species
  • ABE’s first contract was with General Mills, to train animals and salesmen for farm feed promotions. Click here for photos and a video of Larry the Bull, one of the animal actors used by General Mills. 
  • The Brelands coined the term bridging stimulus in the 1940s to refer to the function of a secondary reinforcer such as a whistle or click
  • ABE contracted with many early marine mammal and bird shows and was largely responsible for the spread of behavior analysis to the training of marine mammals and parrots in the 1950s and 1960s. .
  • From 1947 to 1966, the Brelands and Animal Behavior Enterprises were featured over 600 times in the press, including in newspapers, magazines and on the radio.  


IQ Zoo 


For 35 years, ABE operated the IQ zoo in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The history of the IQ zoo is showcased in this website, compiled by Bob Bailey and the University of Central Arkansas. The website contains much historical information, including list of the IQ zoo exhibits, complete with photographs, videos and descriptions, as well as a historical documents section which contains copies of staff training instructions, promotional publications and other historical documents.


Interesting exhibits and documents:

A 12 minute radio interview with Keller Breland

Baseball playing chickens

Frances and her rabbit teach children the names of colors in different languages

Chickens playing three card monte

The 1947 copy of ABE's first contract with General Mills

A written tour of the IQ zoo and description of exhibits

A 1970s promotional pamphlet for the IQ zoo 


This youtube clip features performances of animals at the IQ zoo:



For more information about the IQ zoo, see:


Drumm, P. (2009). Applied animal psychology at an American roadside attraction: Animal behavior enterprises and the IQ zoo of Hot Springs, Arkansas. American Journal of Psychology, 122(4), 537-545.


Bihm, E. M., Gillaspy, A., Lammers, W. J. & Huffman, S. P., (2010). IQ Zoo and teaching operant concepts. The Psychological Record, 60, 523-526)


Animal Behavior Enterprise Patents


The Brelands, Bob Bailey and other staff of Animal Behavior Enterprises were not just interested in training animals, they often were inventors as well. Much of their training was in uncharted grounds and they invented and designed much of their own equipment. Animal Behavior Enterprises was interested in designing equipment and machines for efficient, streamlined animal training that would turn animal training into a technology.


Copies of many of their patents are available through google patents, several are featured below:

Trained Animal Operated Amusement Apparatus

Coin-operated trained animal amusement apparatus

Animal Training Device



More resources related to the history of Animal Behavior Enterprises:


Bailey, R. E. & Gillaspy, J. A. (2005). Operant psychology goes to the fair: Marian and Keller Breland in the popular press, 1947-1966. The Behavior Analyst, 28(2), 143-159.


Breland, K., & Breland, M. (1951). A field of applied animal psychology. American Psychologist, 6(6), 202-204. 


Breland, K. & Breland, M. (1961). The misbehavior of organisms. American Psychologist, 16, 681-684.


Science: I.Q. Zoo. (1955, February 28). Time Magazine. 


Timberlake, W. (2003). Marian Breland Bailey: many lives. Behavioral Processes, 62, 1-4.