Animal Actors Stage
An exotic animal trainer with 20 years of experience, Josh Ruffell formerly served as Assistant Curator at Australia Zoo. Prior to his time in Australia, Josh Ruffell worked at Universal Studios in Japan and California as an animal trainer with the Animal Actors Stage.
In 2001, the long running Animal Actors Stage at Universal Studios Hollywood was re-themed as Animal Planet Live and was promoted as a real-life counterpart to the popular television channel Animal Planet. Renamed Hollywood Animal Actors in 2006 (and now Universal’s Animal Actors), the show has displayed a wide array of animals, including a crane, capuchin monkey, pigs, dogs, cats, rats and a raccoon.
Located on the Upper Lot of Universal Studios Hollywood, Animal Actors features a host of trained animals showing off their skills with the help of their knowledgeable trainers to an audience that is encouraged to participate. As part of the show, the animals reenact scenes from popular animal-centric movies.
America’s Teaching Zoo
A former animal trainer at Universal Studios in Osaka, Japan, Josh Ruffell spent seven years as Curator of Reptiles at Australia Zoo in Queensland. Before launching his career as an animal trainer, Josh Ruffell graduated the Exotic Animal Training and Management Program at Moorpark College in California.
The Exotic Animal Training and Management Program trains students at America’s Teaching Zoo, an affiliated entity also in Moorpark, California. In addition to training students, America’s Teaching Zoo welcomes guests to special events and activities.
In February 2017, America’s Teaching Zoo will celebrate the third birthday of Ira the lion, known affectionately as “King of the Campus.” All visitors will receive a slice of birthday cake to commemorate the event, while children will have the opportunity to make crowns. In late March and early April, the zoo will host its annual Spring Spectacular. Produced by students at America’s Teaching Zoo, the Spring Spectacular weekends play host to a kids zone, VIP tours, and special guest animal celebrities.
Josh Ruffell is an animal trainer and zoo curator who has more than two decades of experience working with animals in the zoo and movie and television industry. Most recently, Josh Ruffell served as Assistant Curator at Australia Zoo in Queensland.
In addition to hosting many mammals, birds, and reptiles, Australia Zoo undertakes a number of conservation projects focused on specific animals in need. One such initiative is the Cassowary Conservation project.
The southern cassowary is an endangered bird notable for being a direct descendant of dinosaurs. Australia Zoo is working alongside other conservation organizations to protect and restore the bird’s natural rain forest habitat.
The Tasmanian devil is another animal Australia Zoo is working to save. These marsupials are at risk of devil facial tumor disease, a contagious form of cancer that can cause blindness and starvation. Without the continuation of protection efforts, research suggests the remaining animals in the wild, which number no more than 50,000, will be extinct within 15 years.
Australia Zoo has also established the Steve Irwin Wildlife Reserve, in memory of the famous “Crocodile Hunter” as a tribute to his legacy. The reserve, officially declared a strategic environmental area in 2013, consists of 135,000 hectares of spring-fed wetlands that house and preserve many vulnerable species.
During his seven years at Australia Zoo in Beerwah, Queensland, Josh Ruffell held multiple curatorial positions where he worked with a myriad of species in various settings. Outside his professional life, Josh Ruffell enjoys snorkeling and is also a certified diver.
The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) Open Water Diver course is the test to seek out for those looking to become certified divers. The performance-based course is very flexible and can be tailored to work around one’s schedule. For those looking to aggressively make their way through the course, it can be completed in as little as three to four days if home-study options are implemented.
The PADI instructor will work to help a person become more confident and comfortable in the diving environment. For some, this will come easily, but for others it will take longer. So while the course can be completed quickly, the ultimate factor in how long it takes is how well the diver is performing.
There are numerous PADI dive centers around the world that all implement the identical training standards, so the course should be accessible to most who are looking to become certified divers. Contact your local PADI dive shop to find out more about when the course is offered and how to register.