COAPE Lecturers & Tutors
Karin Pienaar (Landsberg)
Karin has been working in the field of animal behaviour and behaviour therapy in South Africa since 1997. She completed her Diploma in Animal Behaviour in the UK, through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology (COAPE) and is a qualified Practitioner member of the CAPBT in the UK and South Africa, as well as a Practitioner Member of ABC SA.
She worked as a Behaviour Practitioner for 9 years in Cape Town, but then moved to Johannesburg in 2007 where she, along with her business partners, established the highly successful COAPE SA along with its sister business ThinkingPets. ThinkingPets was later sold to Leigh Shenker who now runs it successfully.
After 17 years of consulting, Karin’s main focus now is presenting the COAPE Diploma and tutoring students, but when she has a spare moment, she still enjoys helping clients with feline and canine behaviour problems. She is the Course Moderator for the Diplomas, and one of only two Practitioners licensed internationally to offer COAPE’s prestigious courses. In addition to frequently appearing on Talk Radio 702/567 Cape Talk and several television programs, she has also been a valued part of the “Animal Talk” radio team. She writes for Animal Talk, Cat’s Life and several overseas magazines and is also contracted to Eukanuba as their Behaviour Specialist, presenting seminars across South Africa. Karin is often in the media relating to Animal Behaviour matters.
She heads the Enrichment Partnership Program between COAPE and the Johannesburg Zoo, where she and her team work with the Zoo to develop bespoke enrichment programs to promote behavioural and emotional health in captive animals, using COAPE’s EMRA approach. They also provide training for both staff and animals to make husbandry tasks and medical examinations/treatments as stress-free as possible. For more information about the Zoo project, visit the Jhb Zoo enrichment programme page.
Wendy joined COAPE SA and its sister business ThinkingPets in 2007, and together with Karin and Peter founded COAPE SA in 2010.
Wendy retired from the Corporate World and relocated to Langebaan in the Western Cape in May 2011. She heads up the Cape Town Diploma lecturing team, and tutors both the Diploma and C0 courses as well as Moderating the C0 courses. She writes articles for Animal Talk and Estate Life and is kept busy with the financial aspects and the day to day running of the business. When she has the chance, she consults with clients for all aspects of canine and feline behaviour problems.
Wendy has been involved in the training and showing of dogs for the past 20 years. However, she has only made a career out of animal behaviour since 2006. Wendy holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology as well as a Certificate in Companion Animal Behaviour. She is a Guild Certified TTouch Practitioner, a qualified canine obedience and clicker training instructor as well as being a Practitioner member of both the CAPBT SA and ABC SA.
Leigh’s studies and career path started in the field of human behaviour, working primarily with youth at risk. However, her love of four legged creatures led her to change direction towards all things related to animal behaviour. Leigh was volunteering in shelters and recognised a real need for behaviour practitioners, both for the animals in the shelters and for post-adoption support. She therefore embarked on obtaining her qualification as a companion animal behaviour practitioner through COAPE. Leigh now holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology.
She has completed her clicker training qualification and has a real interest in natural medicine for animals, and therefore grows and sources many unusual medicinal plants. Leigh spends the majority of her time involved in shelter work and working with clients. Her dedication to shelter work is reflected in several programmes and systems she has set up, and she is committed to changing the traditional model for animal shelters and improving basic conditions for all animals, as well as assisting families who choose to adopt a rescue. Leigh took over ownership of COAPE SA’s sister company, ThinkingPets, in December 2015 and lectures and tutors the COAPE EMRA Advanced Diploma in Animal Behaviour in South Africa.
Taryn has been training and working with dogs since 1998. She started her own training school, Kommetjie Canine College (Cape Peninsula), in 2007 which caters for everything from puppy socialisation and Canine Good Citizen classes to competitive obedience and trick training. Taryn now holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology. She also works as a Behaviour Practitioner, and worked as a consulting behaviourist for The Emma Animal Rescue Society (TEARS) for several years, assessing all adult dogs upon admission, teaching the Open Paw Shelter Programme to volunteers and training the kennel staff to prepare the shelter dogs for the Canine Good Citizen test.
Taryn is on the advisory board of Pets as Therapy (SA) and is a committee member and head trainer of the Cape Rottweiler Club. She is also a committee member of Friends of the Dog Walkers, a group that has been instrumental in retaining access for dog walkers to Table Mountain National Park. She has contributed as a behaviour specialist to Dog Directory and Animal Talk magazines and has been the featured behaviourist on News24.
She joined the COAPE lecture team in 2013 and thoroughly enjoys teaching and working with new students who are as passionate about behaviour and training as she is. Taryn lectures and tutors the COAPE EMRA Advanced Diploma in Animal Behaviour in South Africa.
Karen completed the ThinkingPets Puppy Instructor’s course and then opened her own puppy school on the Atlantic Seaboard in South Africa in 2011. She is the co-founder of ‘Doghub’ where they believe in teaching owners to train their dogs in a force-free way. Karen is a qualified Animal Behaviour Practitioner and is a member of both the ThinkingPets and Pet Professional Guilds. She now holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology which she obtained in 2013.
Karen works with clients and their companion dogs and cats with behaviour problems as well as one-on-one dog training sessions and is committed to ensuring her clients are equipped with the correct knowledge and training skills to enable them to have a deep, trusting bond with their companion animals, giving them the skills they require to be happy, well-adjusted and well-mannered members of their families. Karen lectures and tutors the COAPE EMRA Advanced Diploma in Animal Behaviour in South Africa.
Dr. Lynne Hepplestone
Lynne’s love of animals, and passion for ocean conservation, started as a child growing up on an Eastern Cape coastal farm. Qualifying with a BVSc from Onderstepoort in 1998, Lynne is in private veterinary practice in Kyalami, Johannesburg, South Africa. She is actively involved in Marine Conservation, specifically raising awareness of the critical plight of sharks.
She is an accomplished pianist, a certified advanced venomous snake handler, PADI divemaster, and enjoys yoga, scuba-diving, good wine, friends and family.
Matriculated 1983 DSG, Grahamstown
Graduated B.Mus (Hons in Piano) UCT 1988
Onderstepoort BVSc, UP 1993-1998
1998-2002 PDSA (Veterinary Hospital) Mofolo, Soweto
2002- Private Veterinary Practice, Kyalami JHB
Blue Hills Veterinary Hospital
Cat Clicker Training (ThinkingPets)
Advanced Diagnostic Imaging (Ultrasound,CT,Radiology – UP)
On-going CPD (Vet Congress, SAVA)
Shark Conservation Presentations and magazine articles
Dr Lynne lectures part of the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour.
Dr. Tim Hepplestone
Dr Tim Hepplestone qualified with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science degree in June of 1992 from the Faculty of Veterinary Science, Onderstepoort, University of Pretoria.
After a brief period of working in London, Tim returned to South Africa in 1993 and joined Bluehills Veterinary Hospital in 1995, where he has been overworked for the last 18 years. Tim enrolled for a post-graduate honours degree in internal medicine in 2001. He obtained the degree in 2004.
He holds memberships in the South African Veterinary Association, the National Clinicians Group, The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the Institute of Veterinary Practice development.
Tim has a keen interest in internal medicine including oncology, cardiology, endocrinopathy and stem cell therapy and presents the Behavioural Pharmacology segments of the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour.
Originally hailing from the UK, Wendy came to South Africa in 2006, and began her work in conservation with the Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT), beginning work as a research assistant with large carnivores, and specialising in the endangered African Wild Dog. During this time, she observed many animal road mortalities. Deeply concerned by this, Wendy used her own time and resources to conduct pilot studies to ascertain the extent of roadkill. Some alarming statistics came to light, showing that roads may detrimentally impact biodiversity. In 2010, Wendy initiated a project that formed the basis for the future development of the first national multi-species protocol for the monitoring of roadkill in South Africa. This protocol was implemented in the Greater Mapungubwe Transfrontier Conservation Area (GMTFCA) in the northern Limpopo Valley of South Africa, a World Heritage Site and identified the factors affecting roadkill rates, species composition and any other variables that may affect roadkill rates.
Wendy is currently working with the EWT’s Wildlife and Roads Project where she is driving initiatives that address the now-recognised threat of roads in South Africa. She has successfully co-ordinated four international road ecology workshops which led to the development of a five-year action plan. In addition, she is creating a national network forum which will continue to raise awareness and further quantify the issue at hand through proactive mitigation measures such as a Roadkill Sensitivity Map and best practice guidelines to guide road development. Wendy is continuing to motivate for further research to be undertaken that examines the impacts of roads in South Africa and is liaising with South African institutions regarding the design of future projects. This body of knowledge will lead to the development and planning decisions of future road design, which will lessen the impact of roads on South African fauna and flora.
Wendy obtained her MSc thesis in April 2013 (through Rhodes University) which examined the determinants of roadkill in South Africa. In addition, she has written the South African chapter for an international publication on global road ecology, published a number of scientific papers for international peer-reviewed journals, as well as being the recipient of the International Infra Eco Network Europe Award for her work in the road ecology field, a finalist for the Indianapolis Prize as well as runner-up to the national Eco-Logics Awards for the last three years. Wendy authored and tutors the COAPE CO5 Wild dog course.
Kim has always had a love of both domestic and wild animals. She completed her BSc. Hons in Zoology at Leeds University in the UK and subsequently her MSc. in Mammalogy: Conservation and Management of Diversity through the Mammal Research Institute at The University of Pretoria in 2006. After graduating Kim managed teams of volunteers completing biodiversity studies in the Klein Drakensberg, and researched large predators and elephants on a private game reserve. By then Kim had fallen in love with South Africa and a South African and there was no going back to the UK.
Kim and her husband managed a private game reserve, its game capture school, wildlife rehabilitation centre and its herds of disease-free buffalo and rare breed antelopes along with the resident rhinos. After a few security problems on the farm, Kim and her husband moved to the city and, driven by her love of dogs in particular, Kim decided to expand her knowledge of companion animal behaviour.
Kim is passionate about helping to improve the bond between dogs and their owners and her particular love is working with fearful dogs and the rewards and challenges that it brings. She completed her ThinkingPets Puppy instructor course in 2013 and her OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology in 2015. Kim now provides canine behavioural consultations, private dog training lessons and puppy classes in the South Peninsula of Cape Town in South Africa through her company Peninsula Paws. Kim lectures and tutors the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour.
Sr. Carla van der Merwe
Carla had a great passion for all animals since youth. After school she decided to study veterinary nursing at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria. For the past 13 years she has been the senior veterinary sister at the Small Animal Medicine department and subsequently moved to the Outpatients/ Emergency ward where she is involved in student training, assisting with procedures and emergencies and ensuring the daily smooth running of the clinic.
Carla always had a special interest in animal behaviour and completed a Technikon certificate in basic animal behaviour in 2002. In 2004 she completed her advanced animal behaviour course. She also completed workshops on clicker training and puppy classes. Carla holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology. She does behaviour consults after hours and assists the Veterinary behaviourists at Onderstepoort with behavioural research.
Educating owners about their pet’s behavioural needs is a huge passion for her and she is continuously looking for opportunities to improve her knowledge through attending CPD veterinary congresses and courses.
Carla lectures and tutors the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour.
Jessica studied Motion Picture Production at Tshwane University of Technology and graduated cum laude in 2007. She has since worked as a freelance video editor but volunteered at an animal shelter in her free time. It was here that she met Leigh Shenker, who subsequently helped her cats rebuild their friendship after a week of separation caused unforeseen aggression. Working through the behaviour modification programme, Jess realized that although she had always loved animals, she knew nothing about their behaviour!
She has since qualified as a ThinkingPets Confi-Puppy instructor and holds the OCN UK accredited Diploma through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology and is a CAPBT Affiliate member. She hopes to use the knowledge gained in her studies to assist shelters improve the welfare of the animals in their care, specifically focusing on early development and problem prevention.
Although Jessica is particularly interested in implementing environmental enrichment for animals living in captivity, improving relationships by helping guardians to better understand and communicate with their pets is what she finds most rewarding. Jessica lectures and tutors the COAPE Diploma in Animal Behaviour.
Judy grew up with a great passion for all creatures great and small, so after school she naturally progressed to completing a degree in Zoology and Entomology. After her studies she took a break from her books and due to her love for animals, worked as a veterinary nurse at the Cape of Good Hope SPCA for a year. She then went back to her studies to become a research entomologist working for the Agricultural Research Council for many years.
Her passion for working with animals prompted Judy to enrol for the 3-year TTouch Practitioner’s course in South Africa in 2007.
She qualified as a TTouch Practitioner in September 2009. Following that, Judy completed the COAPE C01 Dogwise Stage 1 course with distinction in 2010. She is a qualified ThinkingPets Puppy and Kitten School Instructor and completed her OCN UK COAPE Diploma in 2014. Judy is the student Liaison at COAPE and handles all student queries. She is the tutor for all the AB courses.
Lizelle joined ThinkingPets in 2011 and obtained her puppy class instructor qualification in January 2012. She opened her school – Polka Dog School – in 2012 and has been going strong since. Lizelle completed the COAPE CO2 course in 2012 and thereafter enrolled for the COAPE Diploma in 2014.
She graduated in 2017 and has been an active behaviour practitioner ever since. Lizelle is a qualified Attorney: in 2013 she graduated from the University of Pretoria with an LLB and was admitted as an Attorney in the High Court of Pretoria in 2015. She then went on to complete her Masters Degree in Fraud Risk Management at the University of Pretoria in 2018.
Lizelle is part of the lecturing team for the Advanced Diploma.