Long before his retirement as president and CEO of Zoo Atlanta in January 2003, Dr. Terry L. Maple envisioned a center that would go far beyond the realm of research. He proposed a venue to share his passion for conservation and science; a platform for public lectures, symposia, workshops, and specialized conferences; and a network of collaborating scholars who would serve as catalysts for debate and discussion of controversial issues and provide advanced training and mentoring, ultimately functioning collectively as a new brand of academic "think tank" for the zoo, aquarium, and museum profession. After a seventeen–year career as a zoological leader, his retirement from the Zoo afforded a timely opportunity to implement his vision of a bold, new partnership for Georgia Tech and Zoo Atlanta.
Study in Animal Behavior Comes to Life
Now that this unique Center—an extension of Dr. Maple's three decades of research in animal behavior—is up and running, the first public programs are on the drawing board. A design symposium featuring architects, planners, and behaviorists from around the world will discuss and debate the exhibition of "charismatic mega–vertebrates" in late 2005. Additional workshops and symposia will be scheduled to examine current topics in animal behavior, animal welfare, and conservation biology.
The Center for Conservation and Behavior, supported by $3 million of endowment managed by Zoo Atlanta and Georgia Tech, is currently located in a suite of offices and workspace within the School of Psychology in Georgia Tech's College of Sciences. As professor of psychology and Elizabeth Smithgall Watts Professor of Conservation and Behavior, Dr. Maple has been teaching psychology and environmental design to Tech undergraduates for twenty–six years. He joined the Tech faculty in 1978 after three years at Emory University and soon thereafter founded the Georgia Tech Laboratory for Animal Behavior (TECHlab). His Tech research team has focused primarily on nonhuman primate communication, socialization and development, conflict and aggression, psychopathology, comparative cognition, and the behavioral effects of captivity. In recent years, he and his students have systematically observed and tested other mammalian forms including giant pandas, elephants, lions, tigers, African antelopes, and giraffes. Dr. Maple and his students and collaborators have produced more than 200 scholarly books, papers, and creative media for publication and global distribution.
Experienced Researchers Make Their Mark
Alumni of the School of Psychology and the Center for Conservation and Behavior are well–trained, experimental psychologists who conduct their doctoral research at Zoo Atlanta, the Yerkes National Primate Research Center of Emory University, or cooperating institutions worldwide that are eager to sponsor their research. The training partnership of Zoo Atlanta, Emory, and Georgia Tech is unique, having produced seventeen doctoral–level graduates who currently occupy prominent positions in universities, aquariums, primate research centers, and zoological parks throughout the world. The program attracts superior candidates, three of whom have won prestigious National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowships. These talented professionals, and well–placed future graduates, will have a profound and lasting effect on the way that animals are managed, exhibited, and studied in world zoos, aquariums, and research centers far into the future.