By Gary Priest, Curator of Animal Care Training, San Diego Zoo Global Academy
The English word "collaborate" has its origin in Latin: the word collaborare is the conjunction of two words that mean "together-work." So, to collaborate is to work together with common purpose. Why? Simply because we accomplish so much more when we do!
The Academy was launched at the AZA Annual Conference in Phoenix in 2012. In Indianapolis, we will be celebrating five years of collaboration with AZA and our many subscriber zoo and aquarium partners. In five years, collaborare has produced many advances significant to our shared professional online learning community. Here are three examples of collaborare that have changed the Academy and our profession:
Branded Sites—In the early days of the Academy collaborare, many of our friends wondered if they could somehow have their own branded training site, complete with their organization's logo. Quite understandably, they wanted their employees to see their own institution's image when their training window opened. They wanted their own branded look and feel, so our partners at CypherWorx made it possible. Now, many Academy subscribers opt to include this customized option: the direct result of "together-work."
Site-Specific Training—At conferences, we hear "The training coming out of San Diego is great, yet we also have some training needs that are specific to our own institution, and to our own employees. How can you help us with these needs?" "Together-work" often begins with such questions. In this case, the DIY (Do It Yourself) Course Creation Tool was created as the solution. Today, Academy institution subscribers can add the course creation capability to their site for training specific to their institution's needs.
Animal Welfare—It is true that "The rising tide lifts all boats." Animal welfare and care is at the core of all modern zoo and aquarium mission statements. The Academy can and does serve the industry as a type of "rising tide." The Academy created the Animal Welfare professional series course by Dr. Lance Miller of the Chicago Zoological Society, and then San Diego Zoo Global decided to make it available to everyone—free of cost—in anticipation of future "together-work" with new partners who share the DNA of our mission.
If the Academy can be viewed as the rising tide, then the tidal flow is increased by the more "together-work" we do with you, our partners in collaboration. Be sure to stop by Booth #332 at the AZA Annual Conference, and say "hi" to Jon Prange and me. Let's explore some more "together-work!"
For questions, please contact Gary Priest, curator of animal care training, San Diego Zoo Global Academy, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Getting Better All the Time:
More Effectively Doing Right By Animals
By James F. Gesualdi
Responsibility changes everything. The moment we decide that we are the ones who are capable of and responsible for changing things, everything shifts.
There is so much more good that we can accomplish to do right by the animals entrusted to our care, those in the wild, and everywhere else. There is so much room for improvement that every single one of us can and should contribute, even if we are only capable of the most modest of actions in the present moment. With all that there is for us to do, there are two important ways to more effectively help animals. The first involves being our best selves in our interactions with others. The second is continuously improving ourselves and our work on behalf of animals.
Treating Each Other Better
Treating each other better makes us and others better people. Treating each other—especially those with respectful differences in perspective—with greater compassion, dignity, and respect makes us better role models for others to emulate in extending similar compassion, dignity, and respect to people and animals, too. In other words, we are living in alignment with the high ideals we are seeking to extend to others, to govern their interactions with animals. Being kind to animals is aided by being kinder to each other, to the extent we can. A sustainable, more humane world for animals will remain beyond our grasp if we employ less-than-humane tactics with each other in the cause of helping animals.
Interestingly, every animal-related organization, including zoos and aquariums, their critics, and all sorts of other animal protection, rights, and welfare organizations, are constantly campaigning for greater resources and more people to aid them in doing right by animals. Manifesting our common love and respect for animals may take the form of divergent positions or views, but they should not obscure the compelling shared interests in animal protection and well-being. As Gandhi said, "we who seek justice will have to do justice to others."
Continuously Improving Ourselves and Animal Welfare
Everything we do, with respect to the animals entrusted to our care, has the potential to help those animals and their wild brethren. Everything. Our thoughts, words, and actions all relate to the animals, colleagues, the public, media, regulators, and critics. And everyone within a zoological organization, from newest volunteer or staff member to longest-tenured board member, shares this responsibility.
The constructive Excellence Beyond Compliance® approach helps us to do our very best to fulfill our important responsibilities to animals. It elevates our commitment to the animals and empowers us to proactively and continuously improve ourselves and our organizations. Boards can and should adopt this approach, or a similar organizational-level directive on advancing animal welfare. Leaders and caregivers should examine, refine, and build upon current "good practices," and extend them to all resident animals, even in the absence of regulatory or accrediting organization mandates. By employing a comprehensive program for continuous improvement in animal welfare, zoological organizations can also reframe the conversation about animal welfare through our daily, ongoing efforts.
Let's challenge ourselves and everyone engaged in working on behalf of animals to simply be our best. Let's treat each other better for the benefit of improving and saving animals' lives, making ourselves better, and continuously improving all we do for animals.
Special Note: Kudos to WAZA, the World Association of Zoos, for the establishment of its first Animal Welfare Coordinator position, and naming Sabrina Brando to serve in this important position. As noted in Excellence Beyond Compliance, "[the] creation of such a position...within an association sends a powerful message as to the importance of animal welfare, while better equipping the association and its individual, professional and organizational members to promote excellence in animal welfare."
The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make ourselves responsible for that future.
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.
Something Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"
Last month, I started to talk about fish welfare and promised to share more this month. At the AZA 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 often never considered to something that is now considered the norm.
Unfortunately, I am running very short on time (I am sure you all know that feeling), as I prepare to fly to the US. Also, I do not want to spoil the AZA session by divulging too much right now, so I will continue the discussion next month. Please come and see The Aquarium Vet at Booth #506 at AZA 2017 in Indianapolis. Drop by, and say G'day!
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 email@example.com .
Visit the Aquarium Vet website at theaquariumvet.com.au.