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San Diego Zoo Global Academy, July 2017. Photo is two leopard sharks swimming at the San Diego Zoo's new Africa Rocks exhibit.

A Collaborative Learning Environment

By Gary Priest, Curator of Animal Care Training, San Diego Zoo Global Academy

Alexandria Zoological ParkAt its core, the San Diego Zoo Global Academy is a collaborative learning environment dedicated to the zoological profession. I'd like to tell you two short stories about two men I met through the Academy. These two accomplished individuals have professional backgrounds that are as different as can be imagined, but as far as I can tell, they are "identical twins" regarding their passion for animals, and their care. Both men work on the global stage, and both are at the top of their professions. Finally, you might be surprised to learn that you have direct access to both of these individuals, because they write regular columns for the Academy newsletter. Let me tell you a little about them.

Although we first met just six years ago at the Academy offices in San Diego, I have known Jim Gesualdi by reputation for over three decades. To me, Jim Gesualdi is a legend in the marine mammal community. I confess to having been a little nervous about meeting him, but my apprehension was completely misplaced. Besides being a law professor and attorney with a national reputation, I discovered that Jim is an animal person. Professionally, Jim somehow managed to combine his passion for animals with his legal training and his knowledge of the Animal Welfare Act, in order to advocate for animals and their care and welfare. Jim seems completely at ease on a large stage or one-on-one, talking about animals. He is a gifted moderator, and he is well known for his live national webinars, which feature informative discussions between high-level government officials and members of the professional animal care community. Jim is also the author of Excellence Beyond Compliance: Enhancing Animal Welfare Through the Constructive Use of the Animal Welfare Act. The very title of the book serves to nudge our profession toward higher ground, where compliance with minimum welfare standards is only the first small step into the expanding universe of professional animal care. I highly recommend that you watch for and join the next webinar that Jim Gesualdi moderates. In the meantime, read his book. Your time couldn't be better spent.

Dr. Rob Jones is an aquatic animal veterinarian, scientist, and teacher. His reputation is global, due in part to his cutting-edge work with the successful artificial insemination of an endangered species of shark—talk about a complex problem! Rob is my hero. In addition, his online e-quarist™ courses and his global work as an aquatic animal veterinary consultant serve to extend Rob's influence far beyond his native Australia. As with Jim Gesualdi, I had the good fortune to meet Rob Jones through the Academy, and we have since become close friends.

My two friends Jim and Rob couldn't have more different backgrounds—a New York attorney and an Australian shark scientist. Yet, I have found them to be similar in several interesting ways. They are both fascinated by—and care about—animals. Both men are highly ethical, compassionate, and fun to hang around with. They are also keen on the subject of wildlife conservation. In short, they are both "animal people," just like you and me.

Each month, the Academy newsletter goes out to a large number of the professionals in our industry. This year, I've discovered that writing a column is a little like doing a monthly radio program: we know we are broadcasting, and we hope the messages are targeted and valuable to our audience. Don't miss your opportunity to collaborate professionally with Jim and Rob. I assure you that they are very approachable, and I know that you would immediately like them. I encourage you to reach out with your questions. I know all three of us would be delighted to hear from you, as we all seek to enhance the collaborative nature of this learning environment.

For questions related to this article, please contact Gary Priest, San Diego Zoo Global Academy, at gpriest@sandiegozoo.org.


Academy NewsAlexandria Zoological Park

San Diego Zoo Global Academy Puts the Pueblo Zoo in the Spotlight
The Pueblo Zoo in Colorado is part of the Academy's collaborative learning environment!


San Diego Zoo Global Academy at the AZA Annual Conference in Indianapolis
Please come by and see us at Booth #332 at the upcoming AZA Annual Conference in Indianapolis, September 9–13! As always, we look forward to talking with you about training for zoo and aquarium operations.

If you have Academy questions, or to schedule a time to meet with us, please contact Jon Prange, jprange@sandiegozoo.org; or Gary Priest, gpriest@sandiegozoo.org.  


Administrator's Users Group Webinar                 
CypherworxPlease join us for the Administrator's Users Group Webinar, hosted by Academy partner CypherWorx. The next webinar is Wednesday, August 16, at 11 a.m. PDT.

Register for this webinar here

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.


COMPLIANCE UCompliance U Course in the Academy Catalog
In addition to the courses created by San Diego Zoo Global, the Academy website's course catalog has many other courses to enhance the training program for your institution. Our Academy partner, CypherWorx, refers to the safety and compliance courses they offer in the course catalog as "Compliance U." Here's this month's featured course:

Respiratory Protection Awareness—In this course, participants will analyze current OSHA standards for respiratory protection, state the purpose and use of respirators, identify and select different types of respirators, and identify requirements for the use of respiratory protection.


Academy Contributors


Getting Better All the Time:
Caring Professionals Dedicated to the Well-being of Animals

Excellence Beyond Compliance logoBy 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.
—Gary Priest

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.
—Mahatma Gandhi

Please email me at jfg@excellencebeyondcompliance.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: info@excellencebeyondcompliance.com.

©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.

Upcoming Teleseminar
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 info@excellencebeyondcompliance.com.


Excellence Beyond Compliance logoSomething 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 katrina@theaquariumvet.com.au

Visit the Aquarium Vet website at theaquariumvet.com.au.


Helpful Hints

San Diego Zoo Global Academy's Idea Hatchery

The Academy's collaborative learning environment is already "hatching" innovative ideas: let's continue to make it easier to do. You get the idea—or, should we say, you've got the ideas—so, let's collaborate on innovation! Please share your online training ideas at: sdzglobalacademy@sandiegozoo.org.


Zoo & Conservation News

As an added Academy benefit, you can view the latest San Diego Zoo Global Zoo and Conservation News here.


Photo of a trainer with a cheetah.

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