Meet Joel

Joel Slaven has been working with animals for over 40 years. He began his career early on at Darby Dan Farms exercising racehorses in Columbus, Oh. He then began raising and training animals at the Columbus Zoo. It was there that he worked with the Columbus Zoo’s Director Emeritus Jack Hanna, host of “Jack Hanna’s Into the Wild.” Joel has been the head animal trainer and show producer for many parks including Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs, Six Flags in Texas and Georgia, and Arabian Nights Dinner Theatre.

He has worked with and trained a variety of animals including: big cats, primates, camels, hoofstock, birds, reptiles and numerous other small mammals. Joel was also the animal expert for television shows such as “The George and Alana Show,” “Crook and Chase,” Disney’s “Mickey Mouse Club”, and “The Carol & Marilyn Show.” His movie production work includes training animals for “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective,” Disney’s “That Darn Cat” and “Rain Maker.”

Making History

In 1997 Joel established Joel Slaven's Professional Animals Inc. Today JSPA Inc. is the largest producer of domestic animal shows in the world. We employ over 70 trainers and have rescued over 2,500 dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs, and numerous ducks, pigeons, rats, skunks, exotic birds and animals from shelters across the country. We currently provide domestic animal shows for Sea World, Busch Gardens, Columbus Zoo, Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and the State Fair of Texas. We have “Pets Ahoy” at Sea World Orlando, “Pets Ahoy” at Sea World San Antonio, “Pets Rule” at Sea World San Diego, “Pet Shenanigans” at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, “Opening Night Critters” at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, “Animals on Safari” at the Columbus Zoo, "Campground Critters" at the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, and “Wild West Pet Palooza” at the State Fair of Texas. JSPA is also proud to have rescued and trained the dogs for “101 Dalmatians, the Musical” show that toured the United States from October 2009 until April 2010.

In 2008 we were awarded the Best Live Edutainment Show by IAAPA for our “Critter Castaways” show at Busch Gardens Tampa, in 2012 we were awarded the Heart Beat Award and the Best Sports Show award by IAAPA for the “Iceplorations” show at Busch Gardens Tampa, and in 2014 our “Animals on Safari” was awarded the Best Live Edutainment Show by IAAPA, in 2015 our “Opening Night Critters” show at Busch Gardens Tampa was awarded the Best Live Edutainment Show by IAAPA and in 2016 our “Pets Ahoy” show at Sea World San Antonio won the IAPPA award for Most Creative show with Animals.

Joel was also the inaugural recipient of the “Animal Hero Award” by the Pet Alliance of Central Florida in 2014.


You May Have Seen our animals on...

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
The Late Show with David Lettermen
Maury Povich
Martha Stewart
The Today Show
Good Morning America