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San Diego Zoo Global Academy, October 2017. Photo is a cactus wren perched on a branch.


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

If you are reading this column, you are probably a zoo or aquarium professional, and it is my best guess that your primary motivation is not money. Now that I have your attention, we also know that we are richly compensated in many other ways. This column is dedicated to the simple but necessary task of reminding us to always be grateful and count those blessings.

As my career inches toward its conclusion in a few short years, I am grateful that being a member of this community has allowed me to develop professional relationships that have transformed into rich friendships with people all over the world. The wonder of this whole notion naturally leads me to the next wonder.

It dawns on me how grateful I am that, regardless of job title, professionals working in zoos and aquariums seem to share very similar DNA. We are family, in every sense of the word. All of us are drawn to and fascinated by life in its many different forms. We love to discover and share the best of the quirky stories about animal behavior and biology. It has been my great good fortune to fall into a profession where others are so similar, and yet delightfully different.

I have also discovered that a deep sense of gratitude is at the core of most zoo and aquarium professionals' hearts. We are grateful to be alive at this particular moment in time, right? Grateful for the opportunity to make even a small difference, and to hope that we will leave the world a little better place than when we arrived. I'm grateful for the opportunity to work with amazing people from all over the world who share that same crazy zoo family DNA.

At San Diego Zoo Global Academy, we are grateful for you. In a little more than six years, we've grown to become the profession's primary tool for staff training and development. We appreciate the opportunity to partner with several professional associations and to help them reach their own membership and mission goals.

We are grateful that because of your support of the Academy, San Diego Zoo Global has been able to offer two critically important versions of the online animal welfare course (General and Professional versions) to other zoo and aquarium professionals around the world as a free gift from our family—and a free course on strategic planning, too (The Value of a Great Strategic Plan).

Certainly, every one of us in this profession hit the lotto, in ways too numerous to count.

For questions, please contact Gary Priest, Curator of Animal Care Training, San Diego Zoo Global Academy, at gpriest@sandiegozoo.org.


Academy NewsBermuda Zoological Society

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


Pro*fes*sion*al Academy T-shirts for Your Training Program
Timing is everything, and now is the time for stocking up on Academy shirts, while supplies last! How does this sound: shirts for $5, and free shipping on orders over $50!

Get your SDZG Academy T-Shirt at Shopzoo.com


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, November 15, 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:

The Globally Harmonized System (GHS) for Hazard Classification and Labeling—This course covers a common and coherent approach to defining and classifying hazards, and communicating information on labels and safety data sheets. This course is targeted to workers, consumers, transport workers, and emergency responders. This course covers topics such as why GHS is needed, how to classify and label different hazards, and systems that are in place for global harmonization.


Academy Contributors

Getting Better All the Time:
Improving Animals' Lives Every Day

Excellence Beyond Compliance logoBy 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

The zoological world is all about living beings. Historically, the zoological community was centered on people and their opportunity to see live animals. This focus has largely shifted toward being more about the animals, but continued public visitation and support is essential to the future of the zoological community. At the heart of that support—and upholding the public trust in zoological organizations—is the quality of life afforded those other living beings, nonhuman animals, entrusted to our care. This is likewise a primary driver of concerns expressed by zoological critics and keenly interested members of the public.

Everything we think, say, and do contributes to the lives of the animals we serve. Really? Yes, truly. How we think and speak about our calling or purpose in making a difference for animals, people, and our planet manifests in our actions and the response. Sometimes we emphasize our mission in terms more akin to other avenues of endeavor. But that also matters: zoos, aquariums, marine parks, and wildlife parks, as well as sanctuaries and all animal-related organizations, need to engage in sound business practices to maintain and grow the resources to best care for animals, enhance their well-being, and aid in wildlife conservation.

Even the questions we ask ourselves and our organizations matter. Imagine the possibilities when we begin considering any initiative with the simple question, "Is this in the best interest of the animals?" Granted, "interest" is still largely undefined. But we can address that easily enough by framing it this way: the best interest of the animals encompasses the overall well-being of the animals in general and individually. This is a key, foundational building block worthy of greater discussion and exploration. Having the zoological community fully engaged in working through this will help the cause of animals everywhere.

Thinking constructively and creatively, having the animals and their interests top of mind, and acting on their behalf is the way to maintain the high ground. We have a tremendous responsibility for the animals in our care, and that is our great opportunity to serve animals and to better the future of the world through the zoological community. The animals live with us and we live for them. And that is the only framing that matters.

Viewing the online video of the recent Association of Zoos and Aquariums talk given by Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, and the wide range of reactions it prompted, reinforced the sentiments expressed here. The most powerful sentence in that talk was, "I thank all of you for the work that you do every day to make animals' lives better." All of us have an obligation to live up to this statement, regardless of the organization we represent or who made the statement. Improving animals' lives daily is the most important work we do, and there is near universal agreement about that.

Next time someone asks what I do, I will proudly reply that my mission is "helping people dedicated to improving animals' lives daily." At least that is how to think about it, express it, and more fully live it, in a genuine and compelling way that even those with differing perspectives can respect.

Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
—Theodore Roosevelt

Happy Thanksgiving! Please know that this grateful heart greatly appreciates the good you do daily in making a difference for animals and people. Thank you!

We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.
—Robert Kennedy

In case you missed the USDA's announcement, they have a presentation on their website that explains the role of attending veterinarians under the AWA. The presentation is a product of the Iowa State University Center for Food Security & Public Health, via a cooperative agreement with USDA APHIS Animal Care, and is available at aphis.usda.gov/animal_welfare/downloads/awa/Attending-Vet-PPT-09-25-2017_secure.pdf. More to come.

For more information on Excellence Beyond Compliance®, visit 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.

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.


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