Getting Better All the Time:
Caring Professionals Dedicated to the Well-being of Animals
By James F. Gesualdi
As carers of animals in aquariums and zoos, we always have their welfare uppermost in our minds.
—Dr. Rob Jones
At its core, the Academy is a collaborative learning environment dedicated to the zoological profession.
The caregivers and dedicated zoological professionals committed to working on behalf of animals have a noble calling and a just cause. While each of us is responsible for doing all we can, as best we can, we are never truly alone. No matter what, however difficult or trying the labor or moment might be, we are all united in working to better the well-being of the animals in our care.
Our duty to serve animals makes us members of a community that extends throughout and beyond the zoological profession, into a world yearning for greater compassion, dignity, and respect for all living beings. Within this community, the San Diego Zoo Global Academy connects us electronically, virtually, and through appearances, programs, and even these seemingly inadequate words. Our effectiveness in faithfully discharging our own responsibilities toward animals is greatly enhanced through our presence in the Academy's collaborative learning environment. Learning with and from one another makes us better people and professionals. Collaborative learning also models important ways to approach our collective efforts to help individual animals and entire species, because together we are much greater.
Although works like this column appear to be a solo effort, that is simply not the case. Three caring, dedicated professionals and leaders made these messages possible through a journey marked by all sorts of positive connections: Ted Molter, chief marketing officer at San Diego Zoo Global; Wendy Bulger, general counsel at San Diego Zoo Global; and Jon Prange, director of San Diego Zoo Global Academy. Dr. Rob Jones, Gary Priest, and Carmi Penny, director of Collections Husbandry Science and curator of mammals at the San Diego Zoo, elevate the effort. Most importantly, many animal caregivers, and other dedicated professionals, including regulators and critics, have proffered their experiences and lessons. They drive this attorney to serve as a channel for bringing forth the "better angels of people's nature," as Abraham Lincoln sought to do.
Animal caregivers, working in concert with others, often engage in good practices worthy of emulation. Truly collaborative and constructive organization cultures integrate facility, maintenance, construction, safety, security, marketing, communication, education, and legal "types" into serving the animals.
Over nearly three decades of addressing challenges and examining difficult situations, the hard-learned lessons continue to move us forward. Elevating animal interests and well-being, working together toward that end daily, and continuously improving ourselves and our efforts are the best, good practices. And we are never truly alone as we seek to do good.
No matter how insignificant the thing you have to do, do it as well as you can, give it as much of your care and attention as you would give to the thing you regard as most important. For it will be by those small things that you shall be judged.
Please email me at email@example.com to share the good you are doing (as only you can), or with any comments or questions on this column or suggestions for future ones. For upcoming workshops and sessions, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
©2017 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.
Join us on Wednesday, October 4, 2017, at 3 p.m. EST, for a very special Ask Animal Care. Joining us from USDA, APHIS will be Bernadette Juarez, deputy administrator; and in their new roles, Elizabeth Goldentyer, DVM, associate deputy administrator of Animal Care, and Robert M. Gibbens, DVM, director of Animal Welfare Operations. Congratulations to both Dr. Goldentyer and Dr. Gibbens, in their new roles. Register and submit questions to email@example.com.
Something Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"
This month, I thought I would introduce the topic of fish welfare. At next month's AZA Annual Conference, one of the sessions I have been invited to speak at is entitled Aquatic Animal Welfare—a Conversation Starter. In the past two to three decades, fish welfare has progressed from something that was seldom considered or discussed to something that is now considered the norm.
Animal welfare officially started almost two centuries ago. In 1824, a group of people met in London, England and eventually formed the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). The RSPCA was the first animal welfare charity in the world. From there, other countries have developed their own versions of SPCAs, and animal welfare has become increasingly recognized. As caretakers of animals in aquariums and zoos, we always have their welfare uppermost in our minds.
A strict definition of animal welfare is not always easy to produce, because the concept is complex, and the word "welfare" is used in a number of different ways. Broadly speaking, animal welfare deals with the humane treatment of animals. Human beings may affect the welfare of fish in many ways. Some are easily defined as having welfare implications (for example, how a fish is killed or euthanized), whereas others are not so easily identified (such as whether an activity can be described as causing "stress" to a fish, such that the well-being of the fish is adversely affected).
The principles of animal welfare have emerged primarily in terrestrial animals, many of which have similar anatomies, physiologies, and behaviors that are often also shared by humans. Fish, on the other hand, are far more diverse, particularly with respect to habitat and ecological niches. In contrast to terrestrial animals, fish are poikilothermic, with their internal body temperature fluctuating depending on the temperature of the water in which they live. The scientific study of fish welfare is at an early stage in comparison to research efforts on other vertebrates, particularly production animals.
How extensive the area of fish welfare has become is indicated by the amount of information provided by Information Resources on Fish Welfare 1970–2003 (Erikson, 2003). This was produced by the United States Department of Agriculture Animal Welfare Information Center and is very comprehensive. Since then, the amount of literature regarding fish welfare has expanded enormously.
I will not spoil the AZA session by divulging too much, but after next month's Academy newsletter, I will discuss it in more detail. I will be in Indianapolis, so please come and see The Aquarium Vet at Booth #506. We would love for you to drop by and say g'day.
Reference: Erickson, H.S., (Ed.) 2003. Information Resources on Fish Welfare 1970–2003. United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Welfare Information Center, Animal Welfare Information Center Resource Series No. 20. Available at: https://pubs.nal.usda.gov/information-resources-fish-welfare-2003.
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.