Joel Slaven has over fifty years experience in the animal industry. He began at the early age of 9, breeding small birds and guinea pigs in his parent’s basement for sale at a small local pet shop in his neighborhood. His career then took him to the world-renowned Darby Dan Farms where he exercised racehorses in Columbus, Ohio. Joel then began raising and training exotic animals at the Columbus Zoo for Jack Hanna. He has been the head animal trainer and show producer for parks such as Cypress Gardens, Silver Springs, Six Flags over Texas and Georgia, and Arabian Nights Dinner Theater. He has worked with and trained a variety of exotic animals including: a variety of big cats, primates, camels, hoofstock, birds, reptiles and numerous other small mammals. He was the animal expert for several television shows including the George and Alana show, Crook and Chase, Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club”, and the Carol & Marilyn show. His production work includes training animals for “Ace Ventura Pet Detective”, Disney’s “That Darn Cat”, and “Rain Maker” to name a few.
In 1997 Joel founded Joel Slaven’s Professional Animals Inc. JSPA Inc. became the largest producer of domestic animals shows in the world rescuing over 2,500 dogs, cats, pot-bellied pigs, ducks, pigeons, rats, skunks, exotic birds and animals from shelters across the country. They provided animal shows for Sea World, Busch Gardens, the Columbus Zoo, the Jacksonville Zoo and the State Fair of Texas. They most recently had “Pets Ahoy” at Sea World Orlando, “Pets Ahoy” at Sea World San Antonio, “Pet Shenanigans” at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, “Critters Inn Charge” at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, “Surfin’ Safari” at the Columbus Zoo, and “Campground Critters” at the Jacksonville Zoo. JSPA is also proud to have rescued and trained the dogs for the Spring Spectacular with the Rockets at Radio City Music Hall and “101 Dalmatians, the Musical” show that toured the United States from October 2009 until April 2010 performing at venues such as Madison Square Gardens.
Many of their shows have been recognized by IAAPA, the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. In 2008 they were awarded the Best Live Edutainment Show for their “Critter Castaways” show at Busch Gardens Tampa, in 2012 they were awarded the Heart Beat Award and the Best Sports Show award for the “Iceplorations” show at Busch Gardens Tampa, in 2014 their “Animals on Safari” was awarded the Best Live Edutainment, in 2015 their “Opening Night Critters” show was awarded the Best Live Edutainment Show, in 2016 their “Pets Ahoy” show at Sea World San Antonio was awarded the “Most Creative Show with Animals”, and in 2018 their “Pets Rule” show at Sea World San Diego won the “Most Creative Show with Animals” award. Joel was also the inaugural recipient of the “Animal Hero Award” by the Pet Alliance of Central Florida in 2014.
Most recently Joel has revisited his childhood love and hobby by starting a new company, Great Pets in 2019. It is safe to say that “Great Pets” is certainly one of, if not the, finest facilities in the United States for breeding small birds and animals for the pet industry. The facility prides itself on the quality care they provide. Extreme measures are taken to provide every bird and animal the best housing, nutrition, and veterinary care with highly trained and dedicated technicians that offer the best of care 365 days per year. The ultimate goal of the company is to provide well-bred happy healthy Cockatiels, Parakeets and Guinea Pigs to the pet industry. “Great Pets” believes that acquiring a new pet should be a long-lasting pleasant experience and that experience must start with a happy healthy animal.