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Katie Brock Interview (pg. 2)

Abigail Breslin dances with Selkie the sea lion in Nim's Island.
Courtesy of Fox Walden

Sindy: How did you get involved in this line of work?
Katie Brock: I've been training animals between marine parks in California and Australia for over 25 years. I started putting my hand up for jobs in animal training for films. I must admit, I spent a little bit of time in Hollywood getting experience for six months, working with anything from mice, rats, pigeons, goldfish, goats, chickens, ducks, pigs, dogs, cats, squirrels, creepy creatures like cockroaches, maggots and all sorts of things. It was simply because I had so many years training with marine mammals at Sea World in Australia, so I was able to transfer the experience across.

Sindy: Are there any particular animals you love working with?
Katie Brock: I feel the most comfortable with dolphins because I have done 25 years with them. I feel like I know them really well. It's probably more of a comfort thing than anything. And I certainly love an enthusiastic dog! I love rodents, believe it or not! I love training rats, they're lots of fun. I had a good time training mice on Babe 2, where we trained them to retrieve jelly beans from a monkey's hand.

Sindy: What's the most rewarding aspect of being an animal trainer?
Katie Brock: It's getting what we had with Abigail, an actor who really wants to be there and getting the shot quickly. And the animals love going to set. That's the goal - to take animals you know that want to be there because it can be stressful, so you want to take animals that want to be there. And you find out quickly which animals are appropriate.

Sindy: And what's the toughest part of the job?
Katie Brock: You prep as much as you can, but at the end of the day you only hope everything goes your way because so many factors change because every scene is highly unpredictable. Just the unpredictability of a set.

Sindy: Do you have any advice for kids who want to get into the animal training industry?
Katie Brock: There are a few animal training colleges in California. One's called Moorpark College and they have the Exotic Animal Training and Management program. It's called the EATM program. And volunteering is a good way to get involved with animals because everybody always needs hands-on help with animals. You can help somebody walk their dog or clean up or whatever. Volunteering has always been one of those things you have to do in the animal world because it's really about getting to know the animals and proving you're dedicated because animals take a lot of dedication.

  • Click here to find out what Katie Brock has to say about working with Abigail Breslin on Nim's Island!
  • Related Stories:

  • Animals in Captivity
  • Animal Cruelty or Population Control?
  • World Wildlife Fund Profile
  • Check out More Interviews on Work It!
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