COAPE Diploma Lecturers & Tutors

Karin Pienaar

DipCABT (COAPE) OCN, CertCAB, CAPBT Practitioner

Karin has been working in the field of animal behaviour and behaviour therapy in South Africa since 1997. She went to the UK to complete her Diploma in Animal Behaviour through the Centre of Applied Pet Ethology in 2007. She is a Certified Animal Behaviourist (CAB) with the International Companion Animal Network (ICAN), a qualified Practitioner Member of the International CAPBT, as well as a Practitioner Member of the ABC of SA.

She originally worked for 9 years as a Behaviour Practitioner in Cape Town, but then moved to Johannesburg in 2007 where she started a training franchise company called ThinkingPets. Following that, she and Wendy Wilson established the highly successful COAPE SA and later sold ThinkingPets to Leigh Shenker, who now runs it successfully. Karin is passionate about animal welfare, animal emotions, behaviour, people and education and firmly believes that the best way to make the biggest difference in the lives of animals around the world is by changing how people see and understand them.

After 20 years of consulting, Karin’s focus now is running COAPE International with Wendy and presenting the COAPE Diploma.  She directs all course research and development for COAPE International. Karin is also responsible for bringing new highly skilled experts on board as COAPE Course Authors and Tutors for specialized courses.

She was originally one of only two Practitioners licensed internationally to offer COAPE’s prestigious courses until 2019, when she and Wendy were given the exclusive license to offer COAPE courses on an international basis following the retirement of Professor Neville and Dr Falconer-Taylor. Being asked by Peter and Robert (two well known, established leaders in the field of animal behaviour) to take over the reins of this international Centre of Excellence has been one of the biggest honours of her career.

In addition to frequently appearing on Talk Radio 702/567 Cape Talk and several television programs, she was also part of the weekly “Animal Talk” radio team. Karin frequently contributes to a variety of publications both locally and internationally and is often in the media relating to Animal Behaviour matters. She has appeared as an expert witness in a wide variety of legal cases relating to Animal Behaviour and is actively involved in the Enrichment Research Program between COAPE and captive wildlife facilities, where, among other things, she and her team volunteer their time to work with zoos to develop bespoke enrichment programs to promote behavioural and emotional health in captive animals, using COAPE’s trademarked EMRA and ESTA approaches. They not only provide training for both staff and animals to make husbandry tasks and medical examinations/treatments as stress-free as possible but also work with a variety of institutes around the world, either by collaborating on studies or by sharing results of work done.

Karin is involved in on-going research to bring EMRA and ESTA to as many animal orientated facilities as possible to promote emotional well-being – not only in companion animals, but also in captive wildlife scenarios.

Leigh Shenker

BADA (Hons)(WITS), DipCABT (COAPE) OCN, CAPBT Practitioner

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, so therefore grows and sources many unusual medicinal plants. Leigh spends as much of her time as possible 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.

Leigh currently manages the Marking Department at COAPE, moderates and marks all courses, and tutors the COAPE Diploma

Dr. Lynne Hepplestone

B.Mus (UCT), BVSc (UP)

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.

Sr. Carla van Rooyen (van der Merwe)

DipVetNurs, DipCABT(OCN).

Carla had a great passion for all animals since youth so 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, 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. Carla 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 tutors and marks the COAPE Diploma.

Jo Scott

QTLS, RVN, Dip CABT, CABP, MAPDT, CAPBT Practitioner member Jo Scott

Jo graduated with her COAPE Diploma in Companion Animal Behaviour in 1999 and worked for Cedar Veterinary Group for 25 years, initially as head nurse and then from 1994-2008, as a full-time professional referral pet behaviour therapist and dog trainer. During this time Jo qualified in clinical small animal nutrition, a subject she has always been interested in. Jo then achieved her teaching qualifications whilst working full time as Course Tutor in animal behaviour, animal care and veterinary nursing at Kingston Maurward College. She went on to combine all her qualifications by returning to practice for Springbok Veterinary Group in Dorset where she was Principal of the South Coast Hydrotherapy School. Recently she has returned to practice at Piddle Valley Vets as Animal Behaviour Therapist and trainer, and is in charge of nurse training. She will also be helping to create a rehabilitation centre, including hydrotherapy.

Jo writes books and articles on companion animal behaviour and runs pet first aid courses. She spends the rest of her time with her family and growing menagerie of dogs, cats, ferrets, ponies and her beloved horse, Gentleman Jim. Her latest venture being teaching her mini spotted pony Tiddly Wink to pull a cart!

Jo tutors and marks the Diploma for COAPE International.

DipCABT (NOCN UK), CAPBT Practitioner. Jessica Prinsloo

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  member. Jessica uses the knowledge gained in her studies to assist animal welfare organizations to improve the welfare of the animals in their care, specifically focusing on early development, problem prevention, and public education.

Jessica currently runs Best Behaviour: Animal Behaviour & Training, focusing on improving relationships by helping guardians to better understand and communicate with their pets. She remains well trained by her dogs, cats, chickens, ducks and two young boys.

Jessica tutors and marks the COAPE Diploma for COAPE International.