Stepping off the plane onto Costa Rica’s soil, in the winter of 2008, I made a fool of myself. I followed the stream of people hurrying out of the airport and found a young heavily bearded Caucasian man holding a DANTA sign. Around him was a harem of young girls around my age. I was one of the last people to arrive. I had just caught the last part of my peers stories. They had all shared their enthusiasm for conservation – a passion that I share as well. They had also all mentioned their eagerness and excitement for not only seeing, but studying wild primates intensively for the next three weeks. I told the group, “I don’t even like primates. I just came to experience a Central American rainforest and see my favorite animals in the wild: sloths.”

Kenny Sloth

I then found out that the young heavily bearded man, was Tim Eppley, an adjunct instructor for the DANTA Primate course I was about to take.

Prior to going to Costa Rica I had studied abroad in Australia for six months. Both of these abroad trips centered around animals and fulfilled my special major in college, which I created with the help of two mentors and dean: Animal Behavior.

Immediately after college I worked for three different zoological facilities over the course of five years.

seal nuzzle

I was always closely associated with the education departments as well as animal husbandry. In addition to educating visitors on conservation, animal behavior, training and communication I have cared for a large range of taxonomic species. I have trained and cared for octopi, penguins, sharks, eagles, hawks, owls, parrots, porcupines, farm animals, a tamandua and my favorite: sloths.


In addition to obtaining my bachelor’s degree in animal behavior I was recently certified as professional bird trainer through the International Avian Trainers Certification Board. I am a weekly pet columnist, magazine contributor and have authored a children’s book titled “A Tenrec Named Trey (And other odd-lettered animals that like to play).

Kenny Coogan author pic

Please search “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook to learn more.

K Coogan Tonawanda

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