Getting Better All the Time: Giving of Ourselves, Planning Thoughtfully, and Thanksgiving for Caregiving
By James F. Gesualdi
To keep ahead, each one of us, no matter what our task, must search for new and better methods—for even that which we now do well must be done better tomorrow.
—James F. Bell
For Goodness Sake
Dig deep within yourself, for there is a fountain of goodness ever ready to flow if you will keep digging.
Looking inward, developing enhanced capabilities, and raising our own consciousness helps us in all we do for animals, for others, and even for ourselves. Serving the animals in our care, those in the wild, and the public demands the best we can muster. Continuously improving upon our best further ennobles our efforts on behalf of other living beings. This is most gratifying when there are visible signs we have comforted an animal, enabled it to thrive, or saved or given quality and meaning to its life. Good outcomes validate the good we do. Other outcomes may result, and those should instruct us and light the path for advanced growth.
Outcomes matter. The external effects of the causes we set in motion have consequences for animals and people. In shaping a better future, building our capabilities and elevating our consciousness makes a difference for animals and people. Difference-making service itself makes us better.
The manner in which we do what we do matters too. The closer our actions mirror our ideals, the nearer we come to achieving those ideals in deed and perhaps even in outcome. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "It is always the right time to do the right thing." Seeking goodness in ourselves and in our work, and doing good for animals and people is, after all, what we are called to do. For goodness sake.
A Thoughtful Plan for Animals and People
First say to yourself what you would be; and then do what you have to do.
On October 3, 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) Animal Care issued its Strategic Plan, 2016-2020, available at: https://www.aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/hp/downloads/strategic_plan/AC-Strategic-Plan-2016-2020_092716.pdf. Since the agency has jurisdiction over zoological organizations pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA), this concise document is recommended reading for zoological professionals. The Strategic Plan is introduced with a message from Animal Care's Deputy Administrator Bernadette Juarez. Her message, like the Strategic Plan itself, speaks to "focus[ing] on the animals," advancing, enhancing, and promoting animal welfare, and working together. Significantly, she states, "improving how we work and interact with people improves outcomes for animals."
The Strategic Plan addresses valuing and strengthening Animal Care's workforce and improving AWA compliance and animal welfare. It includes broad goals and specific objectives in each area. Key themes include building trust, transforming the agency's culture, using a variety of tools, including "non-regulatory solutions" (e.g., those not involving new regulations), collaboration with partners and stakeholders, and continuous improvement. This aspirational agency document stakes out similar approaches, principles, and values to those touched upon in columns like this one and in Excellence Beyond Compliance. Understanding the agency's latest thinking and shared priorities in terms of AWA compliance and enhancing animal welfare, there are opportunities to do more good for animals and people by working collaboratively with USDA APHIS Animal Care's dedicated professionals.
Thanksgiving for Caregiving (and so much more)
Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
As Thanksgiving is approaching here in the U.S. (and was recently celebrated in Canada), the gratitude carried in my heart every day commands outside expression. Here is an altogether inadequate attempt at thanksgiving. Let us each remember and thank, in thought and through our actions, those animals that have inspired us and for whom we strive to be and give our very best and more; those people, colleagues, mentors, friends, family, and others who aid, encourage, and support us in the good we do; and those circumstances and critics which challenge us to be even better.
Thank you for reading "Getting Better All the Time" and Excellence Beyond Compliance: Enhancing Animal Welfare Through the Constructive Use of the Animal Welfare Act, and putting the ideas and principles into action making a difference for animals and people. Thanks to Jon Prange, Gary Priest, Carmi Penny, Wendy Bulger, Esq., and Ted Molter for making this column possible, and for all those involved with getting these words out to the world.
Gratitude is a special force that empowers us and elevates our consciousness to a higher form of living.
—Revs. JoAnn and Cecil Corsiatto, The Emmet Fox Resource Center
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share the good you are doing (as only you can), or with any comments or questions on this column or suggestions for future one. For upcoming workshops and sessions, contact: email@example.com.
© 2016 James F. Gesualdi, P.C. The opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author. This is not, nor should it be construed as, legal advice.
Something Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"
The aquarium side of the zoo and aquarium sector is sometimes considered not as active in the conservation field as the zoos have traditionally been. I therefore want to share one project that has now been running for over 25 years: Project Piaba. Piaba is the Portuguese word for minnow. The tiny cardinal tetra (Paracheirodon axelrodi) has been a popular home aquarium fish due to its brilliant colors and ability to reside in community tanks. They are absolute little jewels (see photo below courtesy of Wiki Commons). Found in the Rio Negro basin in Brazil, catching these and other fish sustain many local river-dwelling families. It is estimated that 30 million fish are exported annually for the ornamental aquarium trade from this area, of which 80 percent are the cardinal tetra.
The home aquarium fishery is the principal subsistence activity for the riverine communities in the municipality of Barcelos, Brazil. The trade in home aquarium fish contributes at least 60 percent of the income revenues in the municipality.
Sustainability is the keyword to this project. Through the process of education, the fishermen understand and now protect their areas of the river ecosystem so that their livelihood can continue. This means that logging, farming,
and mining do not occur in these areas. Because the cardinal tetra has a high fecundity, this collection process has no impact on the wild population.
The New England Aquarium in Boston, led by Scott Dowd has now been involved for many years. For the past few years, each January, a professional team of aquarists and veterinarians visit the area to ensure the health and welfare of the fish is maintained to the highest level. Handling techniques are being constantly reviewed and improved.
Project Piaba is an excellent demonstration of how involvement by public aquariums can ensure conservation, as well as supporting a local artisan people.
E-quarist™ Courses—Academy Subscriber Special!
The San Diego Zoo Global Academy is excited to share an additional Academy subscriber benefit regarding our collaboration with Dr. Jones: as an Academy subscriber, you are now entitled to a discount on the e-quarist™ courses.
For more information about the SDZGA discount, or to view our Trial Version, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Aquarium Vet website at theaquariumvet.com.au.