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Marian Breland Bailey

Robert E. Bailey

Keller Breland

B. F. Skinner

A Brief History    

Marian and Keller Breland worked with noted psychologist B. F. Skinner while they were students in Skinners lab in the 1930s and 1940s. They helped Skinner develop many of his ideas and practices in "operant" psychology. For example, they helped him in the famous Pigeon in a Pelican project, in which they taught pigeons to guide bombs dropped from planes. In the 1940s, the Brelands began Animal Behavior Enterprises. ABE was a commercial venture based on the conditioning of animal behavior through positive reinforcement. In 1951, their successes were published in "A New Field of Applied Animal Psychology" in the American Psychologist. In 1955, the Brelands opened the IQ Zoo in Hot Springs, Arkansas. The IQ Zoo housed chickens that walked tightropes, dispensed souvenirs to paying customers, danced to music, and played baseball. Rabbits kissed their girlfriends, rode fire trucks, sounded sirens, and rolled wheels of fortune. Ducks played drums and pianos, while raccoons played basketball. At its height ABE employed over 40 persons. With her staff, Marian applied operant conditioning to over 150 species. ABE's commercial clients included U.S. theme parks, oceanariums, the U. S. military, and large companies. Keller died in 1965, only four years after they published their classic article on behavior, "The Misbehavior of Organisms" in the American Psychologist. In 1976, Marian married Robert E. Bailey, an accomplished animal trainer. Together, the two of them continued this remarkable work, applying the powerful technology of behavior analysis to ever more species and more amazing tasks and behaviors.