Many people love and keep companion animals and are interested in gaining a better understanding of their animal companions. Many people also harbour a dream of following a career that entails working and caring for companion animals. It is however only a handful who have the opportunity to enrol for formal, full time, studies in Zoology or Veterinary Science at a tertiary institution. In 1997, the late Prof Johannes Odendaal, who was then attached to the Faculty of Veterinary studies at Onderstepoort, was approached by a number of people with an active interest in animal behaviour to develop a course for persons who are not in the position to enrol for full time studies at a tertiary institution to assist them in gaining more knowledge of dog and cat behaviour.
Prof Odendaal, driven by the belief that knowledge has the power to change people’s minds and attitudes, responded by compiling a correspondence course in dog and cat behaviour - the aim being to assist people of all walks of life to fulfil their dreams of having a better understanding of companion animals and thus improving the relationship between owner and animal. This course Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Dogs and Cats was first presented in 1998 as a ‘Short course’ under the auspices of the University of Pretoria. In January 2000 Prof Odendaal left Onderstepoort to accept a position as Research Professor at the then Pretoria Technikon. He, with his wife, Hanna, as Course Manager and co-presenter, established Ethology Consultancy CC (now Ethology Academy) and for the next two years Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Dogs and Cats was presented under the auspices of this institution.
With Ethology Academy well established and the Dog and Cat course gaining in popularity, the demand from animal lovers for yet more knowledge resulted in the original course being split into two separate courses, Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Dogs and Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Cats. With the help of experts in the field the Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Birds, the Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Horses, the Advanced Dog and Cat Courses, the Animal Assisted Course and the Grooming Business Course were developed. The content of the courses was submitted by the Technikon to the South African Qualification Authority (SAQA) for approval and accreditation.
Due to policy changes and the amalgamation of the different Technikons in the Pretoria area, the decision was taken in 2003 to fully privatise the presentation of the courses and to seek independent accreditation with SAQA. So far the ideal of accreditation has not been realised but the effort is continuing.
On 3 December 2007, Prof Johannes passed away very unexpectedly. With all the course material already updated for the new academic year and a number of very well trained experts already part of Ethology Academy as co-presenters and agents, Hanna was capable of taking over the reigns of Ethology Academy and the courses could continue with out any interruptions or a lowering of the academic standard.
Ethology Academy is currently owned and managed by Hanna Odendaal.
The Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Dogs and the Advanced Dog Course is presented by Dr. Hannes Slabbert, the Basic Cat and Advanced Cat Courses by Dr. Freddie Hurly, the Basic Bird Course by Mr. Ben Minnaar and the Basic Horse and Advanced Horse Course by Ms. Altha Viljoen. Ms Julie Bezuidenhout and Hanna present the Companion Animal Grooming Course jointly and the Animal Assisted Activity Course is presented by Hanna with the assistance of various people who are involved in such programs.
Ethology Academy has appointed agents to assist Dr. Hannes Slabbert with the Basic Dog course, the most popular course. These agents act as mentors for the Basic Behaviour Course: Dogs students in their regions, they assist in marking the assignments according to a memorandum, and organize the writing of the final examination in November. The agent for the Western Cape is Ms Karen Gray-Kilfoil, for Eastern Cape (PE) Ms Lynn Scholtz, for the Eastern Cape (East London) Ms Sheila Meyer and for Kwa Zulu Natal, Ms Mari Borain.
Ethology Academy also makes use of experts in various fields on an ad hoc basis to assist with the presentation of some of the seminars.
All the courses that Ethology Academy presents are recommended by the South African Board for Companion Animal Professionals (SABCAP).
The Animal Behaviour Consultants of South Africa (ABC) recommends the Basic Cat and Dog Courses as well as the Advanced Dog and Cat Courses.
Ethology Academy accepts up to 250 students every year. The students come from all walks of life, local and international, with different goals in mind: Some do a course (or two) as a step towards their goal to establish themselves in the fast growing companion animal industry as animal behaviourists, kennel or grooming parlour managers/owners, work in a pet-deli or the SPCA. A significant number work as professional dog handlers or for institutions like SARS, the Metro Councils, or private security companies in countries like Iraq and Afghanistan where they do de-mining. Others just want to understand their own companion animals better. The one thing all our students have in common is a sincere love for companion animals and a desire to understand them better.
There are a number of very good reasons to study through Ethology Academy.
- The founder, Prof Johannes Odendaal, was an internationally acknowledged academic and leader in the field of Companion Animal behaviour studies.
- Ethology Academy has established itself over the past 12 years as a reputable learning institution that laid the foundations for animal behaviour practice in South Africa and the majority of the people who work in this field have done one or more of the courses on offer.
- The contents of the courses are scientifically sound, academically of a high standard, and the curricula are unique as a holistic approach to the study of animal behaviour.
- The presenters and the agents are well qualified, experienced and able to assist students in both English and Afrikaans.
- The courses are conducted through the normal postal system, making it accessible for all.
- The administration of the courses runs smoothly and students are treated in a respectful and professional manner.
and - Ethology Academy is truly South African!
Ethology Academy is run from offices at Hanna’s home in Centurion, Pretoria.
“The Ethology Institute must be the most well run organization I have been associated with.”