Allison Kao

Animal Care
Positive Reinforcement Training; Environmental Enrichment
Behavioral Husbandry and Enrichment Manager

Areas of Expertise

  • Operant conditioning
  • Classical conditioning
  • Animal behavior
  • Behavioral enrichment


Allison oversees the behavioral husbandry program for all the individual animals throughout the zoo. This program consists of animal training, as well as behavioral enrichment. Allison sets guidelines for each program to ensure the behavioral health of all the species around the zoo. This includes assisting in setting training goals for species, approving plans for training, brainstorming new ideas and problem solving, assisting in setting behavioral goals for each species enrichment program, approving enrichment items or techniques, and providing educational opportunities for keepers so they can continue to grow and improve as trainers. She also works with the animal welfare team to ensure the zoo is reaching the behavioral needs of all species.

Prior to coming to Lincoln Park Zoo, Allison worked as a keeper at a few other accredited zoos, where she gain experience with many different species of animals and grew her knowledge of behavior. Before stepping into this manger role, she held keeper positions at Kovler Seal Pool, Regenstein African Journey, and Helen Brach Primate House.


  • Wark, J.D., Cronin, K.A., Niemann, T., Kao, A., Shender, M.A., Horrigan, A. & Ross, M.R. 2019. Monitoring the behavior and habitat use of animals to enhance welfare using the ZooMonitor app. Animal Behavior & Cognition, 6: 158-168.
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