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New OSU center explores relationship between animals, humans

Macon Overcast



If you house a bunch of roosters together like a frat house off of North High, they won’t outwit their biology and learn to lay eggs.

This was the dilemma phoned in to Dr. Kelly George by a local backyard chicken cooper whose new flock had remained eggless for weeks after the purchase. Recalling the story, Dr. George smiles with a both a sense of irony and empathy.

“Because they didn’t know how to sex a bird, they got all roosters, which they couldn’t legally have in the city limits.”

Dr. George is Co-Director of a new center in the Department of Animal Science at OSU, the Center for Human-Animal Interactions Research and Education (CHAIRE).

CHAIRE’s mission is to study a brood of topics including human welfare, animal welfare, companionship and conservation science – all in relation to human-animal interaction. Almost anything that relates human and animal health is fair game for research, even backyard chicken debacles.

However, Dr. George chose not to formally investigate backyard poultry raising in this instance, unfortunately for those of us wondering what happened to that rooster coop stuck in an eternal Saturday-is-for-the-boys chant.

But, she sees her anecdote about illegal rooster operations as a analogy of CHAIRE’s impetus. That is, our encounters with animals are significant and they aren’t always even realized.

“We are very, very fortunate to be here. We sit in a rural-urban interface. Right here in Columbus. I go to farms everyday, and yet I also sit in an office. I can go to the zoo. I have lots of different interactions with animals. And so does everyone in the neighborhood as they drive through Lane and Kenny where they see a dairy, or see our equine facility on Sawmill.

There are lots of different ways people are affected by animals every day, even if it’s just ‘Oh, I saw a foal in the pasture, and it made me smile.’ They may not even realize when it happens, but bringing awareness is important.”

For Dr. George, interactions with animals include the cheese stringing from your Condados taco, the Dublin Pet Fair adverts on Facebook (stop tracking my location, Zucks!), or even smelling cow manure while you drive into the city on 315 past Ackerman.

Don’t miss the point. Animals are important.

Before the emergence of CHAIRE, Dr. George garnered the support of another Columbus animal science juggernaut – The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. Wanting to investigate the use of animals in zoo education, she reached out to Suzi Rapp.

One word can fully describe Rapp’s dedication to conservation education: Passionate.


Rapp has worked for the Zoo for 39 years and has made a career as the Vice President of Animal Programs. After listening to Dr. George’s research proposal, it only took her a moment to agree.

Animal keeping and zoo management already requires long hours, heaps of holiday work, and the persistent threat of getting crapped on by an exotic animal, so why add more to the plate?

The answer: Zoos need it, and Rapp wants the best for the animals under her care.

“We don’t have the manpower or the expertise to create that science,” she explained. “Ohio State has professors, researchers, students, grad students that would love to perform this science. Even if the science is as simple as measuring stress through cortisol and stereotypical behaviors.

That’s how the partnership [with OSU] began. I’m an advocate of science. I’ve made many changes to the way I operate, to the way I work an animal, or the way I house an animal, or an exhibit I build –based on this science.”

CHAIRE and the Zoo have created a near perfect synergism to promote the platform of human-animal interactions. Not many programs like this exist in the country, but Columbus has the capacity, and interest, to inspire this majorly interdisciplinary, multi-organizational feat.

Rapp put it plain and simple, using refreshing rhetoric in our frequently bipartisan world.

“It’s partnership. We are all working for the same thing. We just need to figure out how to get there.”

And CHAIRE is a fitting piece to that puzzle.

My favorite concept CHAIRE includes in its research vision is zooeyia.

You can experience zooeyia when making eye contact with you dog, when a cardinal lands on your window sill, or when your cat does one of its infinitely unpredictable behaviors.

Zooeyia is when human health benefits from animal interaction. Animals help us be happy. Precisely how and when this happens, CHAIRE seeks to discover.

Dr. George and Suzi both expressed great admiration for the Columbus community during their interviews and look forward to exploring this frontier. In the words of Dr. George: The more we learn about humans and the species we share the planet with—those relationships almost have to change.

Central Ohioans have the opportunity to experience zooeyia on September 19th, when CHAIRE hosts their first fundraising event.

The event will be hosted by Columbus’ own conservation king Jack Hanna.

He will bring with him various ambassador animals from the zoo for attendees to personally witness the impact of zooeyia during his presentation regarding CHAIRE’s vision.

[symple_button url=”” color=”black” button_target=”_self”]RSVP to the event[/symple_button]

For more details about purchasing tickets to the event and about the program at large, visit To become a Friend of CHAIRE, please email [email protected] expressing your interest in joining a list-serve for future happenings of CHAIRE and possible volunteer opportunities.

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Great Apes: Two gorillas coming soon to Columbus Zoo




The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium is no stranger to primo primates. Colo (RIP) who was both the first gorilla born in captivity and the oldest known gorilla in the world, called the zoo home for 60 wonderful years.

Now, two new additions from a zoo in Wisconsin will be joining the storied Columbus troop:

17-year-old Shalia and her 4 ½-year-old offspring Sulaiman will be transferred to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium from the Milwaukee County Zoo in Wisconsin sometime in the next few weeks.

When the duo arrive, it will be something of a family reunion. Two-year-old gorilla Zahra is half-sister to Sulaiman, and has been at the Columbus Zoo since 2018.

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Play like a kid at R Adventure Park in the Hocking Hills

Mitch Hooper



Tucked away from the main road leading into Hocking Hills sits a world that rivals most theme parks you can find. Complete with a multimillion dollar ropes course, 68 miles of riding trails, a speed course, off-road vehicles, zip-lining, a paintballing arena, and a damn roller coaster, this dreamland sounds just like that—a dream. But for Karry Gimmel, owner, curator, imagineer, and engineer—R Adventure Park is every bit of his wildest dreams made into reality.

Upon arriving at the park, we drove up the long drive-way and eventually our playground was unveiled from behind the tall trees. The ropes course towered in the background as Polaris quads, side-by- sides, and three-wheeled Slingshots were scattered about near the front desk area. As gray skies filled the sky, we knew the Ohio weather was going to do its best to give us its worst.

Photos: Brian Kaiser

“Don’t worry,” Gimmel assured us. “We have some of our best days when it rains.”

It didn’t take much to convince us. Gimmel has worked and continues to work as an engineer for Disney World—if anyone can be trusted as a reliable source for fun, it’s him. Combine his knowledge of theme parks from Disney World with seemingly unlimited space (thanks, unplotted land!) and a little horsepower, and you have a place where kids, mom, dad, and even grandma can participate.

He took us to the eye-grabbing rope course to begin our day. I’ve never been one to call myself an adrenaline junkie, but heights haven’t really bothered me before. Whether it be the roller coasters at Cedar Point or working summer construction on scaffolding 60+ feet off the ground, I came, I saw, and I conquered. So when I approached the first tier all strapped in my safety harness with my guide on hand, I was befuddled to find how nervous I was.

The first obstacle is an easy one: a balance beam. But to my eyes and brain, it was a tightrope across the Grand Canyon. And when I took that first step, I was sure it was a tightrope across the Grand Canyon and the slightest gust of wind would send me to my doom. Slowly and methodically, I stepped forward making sure to follow OSHA tips like always keep three points planted when at high altitudes. Turns out that summer construction job is paying off.

After making it down and back comfortably, we continued to turn the heat up. Each level higher presented more difficult obstacles—all seemingly insane until you actually complete them. Every obstacle completed might just bump your confidence to the point where you might just try a few backwards, hopping on one foot. But if you’re feeling more comfortable staying on the first tier, there’s no shame in that.

As we finished up the ropes course, the rain seemed to be moving in which made for an appropriate time to switch. We ditched our belays for helmets and safety glasses and made our way to the Polaris side-by-side vehicle. To say this vehicle was covered in dirt, mud, and dust is an understatement. Our driver went to brush some off the seat, but Gimmel quickly stopped him.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about that; you’re going to get muddy,” Gimmel said. “Do you want to do the trail, or the ‘trail’ trail?”

Of course, we picked the “trail” trail.

After a crash course in how not to crash, we took off into the woods cruising through the curvy trail surrounded by trees and nature. We continued as tree branches brushed by us and the mud slinging party only grew bigger. Each dry strip of land was a chance for the mud to come free from the tires and these human-seeking dirt bombs were on a mission. Our trek through the trail eventually took us to a speed course where we could finally let loose and see how this machine works. Gimmel knew exactly where to take us: the drag strip.

On the count of three, we screamed off down the quarter-mile dirt strip like a rocket shot out of a cannon. Gimmel, leading us in a one-man side-by-side, gave us a few seconds head start and still managed to smoke us in a cloud of dust. (We’ll get him next time, though.)

All-in-all, the 30-minute adventure on the trails felt like an eternity—in a good way. The twists and turns of the trails remove all your sense of direction, making you feel as though you just traveled miles away from the park. But with a few turns here and there, we wound up right next to the ropes course where our day all started. Of the 68 miles of trails, we covered about three.

The mantra at R Adventure Park is fun for everyone with an added bonus: instant gratification. Gimmel said the park started when he would have business partners visit for various reasons and inevitably, he’d be scrambling for a way to entertain them. He always keeps vehicles nearby and he had a few ATVs on stock which quickly became the favorites for his friends—anyone who’s ever tried to rent quads before knows how much of a headache it can be just finding a rental place, let alone finding trails.

Gimmel recognized the lack of options as well as the high overhead with getting into off-roading. At R Adventure Park, he could offer both without the big investment. But he was going to need some more off-road vehicles to accommodate. After some reluctancy, he was able to work on agreements with Polaris, making R Adventure Park one of the few spots in North America where you can rent, learn, and ride ATVs without having to purchase your own.

There’s another mantra for R Adventure Park and Gimmel says its thanks to his Canadian genes: creating a community. While you’ll find adventure and excitement in nearly every corner here, you will not find lodging. And Gimmel seems like he has no plans for that in the future. Instead, he encourages visitors to look into lodging options near the park as to support his neighbors. For him, it’s not about having the entire pie, it’s about everyone getting a slice. It just helps that his slice comes served in a Polaris Slingshot that can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.6 seconds.

R Adventure Park is located on 15155 Sauerkraut Road, Logan, Ohio 43138. For hours and operations, visit

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Local canine training company won’t heel until human, canine bond is created





Everybody knows that dogs are mankind's best friend, but being bffs with someone who speaks a different language can prove difficult. That's where ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC comes in.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC was founded with one goal in mind: to deepen the human canine bond. It's a one-stop-shop for pet owners seeking professional dog training, behavior modification services for aggressive, reactive, and fearful dogs, on- and off-leash obedience coaching, boarding services, grooming, and so much more.

But what makes ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC different from all the other doggy daycares?

"ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC has cracked the code between human and dogs by learning to understand what makes us human, our genetics, how we communicate, how we learn, and knowing about sensory and emotional responses," said owner Jordan Hickle. "Canines vary from their human counterparts, greatly. Having the understanding and knowing what these differences are allows us to go above and beyond in our educational experience."

Hickle attended The Tom Rose School for Professional Dog Trainers in High Ridge, Missouri where he completed both the Professional and Master In-Residence Certification Programs, graduating with honors.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC teaches a fully comprehensive and practical handling course with all their Premier Dog Training Programs. These programs are tailored with your dog at the forefront of the program’s design process, explained Hickle.

And it's not called Columbus’ Premier Dog Training Company for nothing. Hickle leads his pack of experienced, well-informed, passionate professionals on a path towards singularity between you and your canine companion.

"Well behaved dogs who are knowledgeable in how to appropriately interact in our human world are able to accurately do their jobs of being a blood pressure lowering companion," said Hickle. "Not only that, their human companions can sleep peacefully at night knowing their dog is a well-behaved member of society and NOT a nuisance or liability!"

Is your dog a well-behaved member of society, or...not so much? Choosing ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC is choosing commitment, concentration, and a livelong companionship between you and your dog.

"Above all, we recognize that your dog is family!" said Hickle.

ALL PURPOSE K-9 LLC will be moving from Reynoldsburg to 510 East Main Street, Columbus in September. For more information, call (614) 623-4593, email [email protected], or visit

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