AAZK National Conference Topical Workshop Abstracts
New Enrichment? No Problem! Finding Your Creativity In and Out of the Box! Janine Bartling, Utah’s Hogle Zoo
As animal care professionals, we are expected to come up with new enrichment ideas that rotate in with the tried and true ones we give our animals. As we aim to elicit the natural behaviors of our species, we must be aware of safety concerns, and may also need to follow rules from our facilities regarding the appearance of the enrichment, including its color or if it is naturalistic. While some people are fountains of creativity, other people may find making enrichment a daunting task; some keepers may simply suffer from enrichment burnout. This limited topical workshop aims to jumpstart dormant creativity or expand on your creative thinking in making enrichment out of materials you already have. We will work on how to see potential uses for objects, how to utilize them in various ways for the same or multiple species, and how to sketch ideas when you have no artistic talent. We will also explore turning ideas into models, the use of social media for idea mining, and adapting ideas from one species into items for another species. Come share your creativity and find inspiration. This workshop will not be making items to take back to your facility.
Roll of the Dice - Table Top Drill Kelly Murphy, North Carolina Zoo
The tabletop exercise is a discussion-based session where the participants will examine a series of emergency scenarios that can and have occurred in zoological institutions. Participants will be guided through an informal discussion of Incident Command Systems (ICS) and how the structure is utilized in an emergency. Incident Command is the gold standard for coordinating emergency response for law enforcement, fire and emergency medical services and is widely utilized in the zoological sector. Participants will role-play and discuss how they would respond to each scenario. The facilitator’s role in the discussion is to not only present the scenarios, but encourage the participants to step beyond what their immediate role is in an emergency response to look at the responsibilities of their facilities management team will be during and after an emergency utilizing an ICS model. The goal is to get the participants to work together as a team, replicating the processes and procedures that they have in place at their home facilities. The goal is to get them to work through an emergency, making decisions about their response in a timely manner, to best simulate an emergency in this hypothetical exercise. The participants will leave the workshop better prepared to utilize an ICS for a variety of emergency scenarios that the zoological community can face. Participants will be furnished with information and materials that they can share with their own facilities, and improve facility preparedness. This drill will be based on the Los Angeles Zoo, their animals and facility.
Tools for Running a Successful Chapter; How to Take Action on Your Chapter’s Finances Christine Rogers, AAZK Resource Committee
Chapter leaders often reach out for advice on various online platforms regarding their chapter’s finances. Questions range from what banks to use, how to balance their accounts, or how to how to allocate fundraising funds. These are all important topics for Chapter leaders to understand. When a Chapter has a basic knowledge of how to manage finances, it can allow the Chapter to grow and contribute to conservation and professional development.
Taking over a Chapter’s finances can be a frightening task for any newly elected Chapter officer. This workshop would act as a guided round table that will highlight strategies used by chapters to track and balance accounts, how to allocate funds for chapter expenses, and tips for filling out forms and the financial section of your chapter’s re-charter packet.
Women in Leadership Kelly Murphy, North Carolina Zoo
Each of the panelists will give a brief presentation based on their experience before opening the floor for a later guided discussion about all the categories discussed. The brief presentations will focus on a couple of different key areas: • Committing to owning your future can be a daunting prospect. The thought of adding responsibility when you are already overwhelmed by your routine can feel like a gust of wind when your toes are barely perched atop a tightrope. Why aspire to achieve more? With the unique challenges they face in the workforce, women need to be especially cognizant of their futures. Reproductive choices place particular pressure on women to achieve while potentially being considered a liability. Gender based inequalities like pay gaps make changing a women's financial status slower than their equally qualified male counterpart. • Discussion about mental and physical health and the importance of finding that good “healthy” balance. What it means to ask for help and how as women we find this to be a very difficult request. Grief and how best to deal with it in the workplace. • As the pendulum has swung and the ratio of female: male keepers has skyrocketed over the past few decades, zoos have simultaneously embraced the “team” approach to animal care. But how can you navigate the mine field of being a good teammate as well as a talented and ambitious employee interested in moving up?
The panelists see this discussion as an opportunity to inspire the participants to examine their current role within their facility and their career trajectories. Participants will gain knowledge and confidence that will positively impact their career development and give them the confidence to pursue advancement opportunities in the future. The panel will reinforce the value of a positive career development while also encouraging them to provide the same for their college in the animal care professionals.
Manage Up! LynnLee Schmidt, Tanganyika Wildlife Park
In a recent survey of zookeepers, poor leadership was cited as a reason for leaving past positions and source of frustration in current positions. With burnout and compassion fatigue being a hot topic on many zookeeper forums these leadership issues only compounds the challenges that are already being faced by zoos and aquariums: retention and turnover.
Empowering keepers to take responsibility to make positive changes in culture and communication is a great way to improve retention, reduce turnover, and help zookeepers stay positive in their positions.
This workshop will take participants through seven steps to identify their challenges, accept responsibility for making change, initiate a plan of attack, and work towards solutions to challenges they face in the workplace.
Zoological Diversity - Examining the Diversity of Us Justin Birkhoff, Cheetah Conservation Fund
Diversity and inclusion are important topics in all workplace environments, and the zoological and conservation world is no exception. Within the zoological community we commonly explore visitor demographics but how often do we turn the lens on ourselves to examine the demographics of our staff? As it stands the current state of zoological staff demographics does not reflect the population we serve. Diversity is critical for innovation, productivity, and profit so why is there a diversity gap in the zoological field? What factors exist that discourage minorities from entering the zoological field and how do we start to remove these barriers as our industry moves forward?
The scope of this workshop will focus on diversity in the zoological community. A panel discussion from current and former animal care staff with diverse backgrounds will share personal stories, discuss hurdles and engage the audience in strategies to empower all animal care staff to move towards a more inclusive and diverse workforce. Topics of focus will include how to create a culture of inclusion through self-awareness, shifting behavioral tendencies and learning strategies to act as allies. Audience participation is a must. Attendees will contribute to a constructive dialogue, share their personal challenges and successes in the zoological field. Attendees will leave with increased insight into the varied experiences and obstacles faced by all animal care staff.
To Breed or Not to Breed: Principles of Reproductive Management in AZA Accredited Zoos Ashley Franklin, PhD, AZA Reproductive Management Center at the Saint Louis Zoo
In zoos, maintaining animals in their natural social groups is necessary for animal well-being. However, if every animal was allowed to breed freely, it would result in compromised genetic health (inbred offspring) and the production of more animals than can be properly managed. Consequently, reproduction in zoos is carefully controlled through intensive population management. The goal of this workshop is to increase keepers’ understanding of the fundamental principles of reproductive management. Participants will learn (1) the genetic and non-genetic factors that are considered when population managers are deciding which individual animals and pairs (or groups) of animals should or should not breed, (2) the wealth of information one can learn from noninvasive fecal hormone monitoring, including estrous cycle monitoring, efficacy of contraceptive treatment, and pregnancy detection, (3) contraception methods available for zoo animals and the associated limitations and challenges, (4) the value of routine fertility assessments and how to address a potential fertility issue, as well as (5) gamete banking and the realistic use of assisted reproductive technologies for reproductive management. Additionally, current AZA Reproductive Management Center (RMC) initiatives such as Reproductive Viability Analysis (RVA) and Lifetime Reproductive Planning (LRP) will be presented. By the end of this workshop, keepers should leave with a deeper understanding of the essential principles of reproductive management in AZA accredited zoos and the role they play in improving its success.