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San Diego Zoo Global Academy, March 2018. Photo Gouldian finch.

 Compass imageUpside-Down Leadership

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

I have arrived at an age where many of my coworkers and professional friends are retiring. I find it a bittersweet time. Last year, my friend Dr. Don Janssen, San Diego Zoo Global's corporate director of animal health, retired, and I sincerely miss working with him. However, as it turns out, retirement was not the end of Don's career. Many retirees say they plan to write a book—but Don Janssen actually did it!

Late last year, I was pleased to learn that behind the scenes, San Diego Zoo Global's president and CEO Doug Myers had been encouraging Don to spend some of his time sitting on a beach in Del Mar, writing a book about leadership. I've just had the pleasure of reading an early draft of Don's book. I couldn't put it down. Don has knocked it out of the ballpark.

Upside Down Leadership bookIf I had only one word to describe Don, it would be RESPECT. I worked with him at the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park for over three decades, and I know that he is universally respected. He is quiet, thoughtful, very smart, and painfully modest (and I am delighted to know that he will be embarrassed to read this).

Don is one of those rare people whose life is defined by personal integrity and character—and when he speaks, people listen, because his pragmatic, thoughtful approach to a challenge is always important. I write this about Don because I want you to understand the nature of the man and the gift he has just given all of us. Upside-Down Leadership is the new book's title. It was a lifetime in the making, and it is a book about an improved version of me and you.

It would not be surprising for a veterinarian with Don Janssen's experience to tell a story or two about animals. Don's book certainly does offer the reader many compelling animal stories, set in exotic locations around the world. What is surprising is that in every chapter, Don reveals a deeper message that underscores a principle or life lesson about what it means to become a servant leader. Don's book is about people and their treatment, leadership, and success.

If you work at a zoo or aquarium as an executive, curator, manager, or veterinarian, this book is about one man's lifelong quest to learn and practice servant leadership. It is Don's gift to you, for your institution and your success.

The book is being printed as you read this. Through this exclusive pre-publication offer, you can learn more about the book and pre-order your own copy of Upside-Down Leadership here. The book will be available in both hardcover and softcover editions.

Just as Dr. Don Janssen's course on zoonotic disease prevention was the first of the Academy's professional series of courses, Upside-Down Leadership is the first book published for the San Diego Zoo Global Academy Academic Series.

Thanks, Don. Now, go enjoy that beach.

For more information about this article, or great news, please contact Gary Priest, curator of animal care training, San Diego Zoo Global Academy gpriest@sandiegozoo.org.

Academy News

Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park logoSan Diego Zoo Global Academy Puts the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park in the Spotlight
The Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park is part of the Academy's collaborative learning environment!


Administrator's Users Group Webinar
Please join us for the Administrator's Users Group Webinar, hosted by Academy partner CypherWorx. The next webinar is Wednesday, March 21, at 11 a.m. PDT.

Register for this webinar here.

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

Academy Contributors

Getting Better All the Time:
The Changes We Seek for Animals and People Start from Within

Excellence Beyond Compliance logoBy James F. Gesualdi

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.
—Viktor E. Frankl

Personally, professionally, and organizationally, there is but one way to advance the welfare of the living beings entrusted to our care, and to build and secure a meaningful future for the zoological community. Though the way is as close as our own hearts, it may sometimes elude us, both individually and collectively. It is the way that would enable us to address causes rather than effects, and thus empower us to make even more significant contributions to making this a better world for animals and people alike. The starting point of this one way is within.

The efficacy and value of our efforts toward serving animals and people—whether in our care, in our communities, or in the wild—always and only begins with us. We alone are responsible. External worldly challenges and critics are truly outside, much more than we realize. Rather than stressing us, these factors should fuel us with lessons as to areas for attention and improvement to enhance our effectiveness. But that should still be secondary to our own drive to better ourselves and our ability to serve. The better we become, the more constructive our attitudes and approaches are—including taking responsibility—and the more readily we resume being the creators of the results we seek, in lieu of merely reacting to the effects of outside agents.

Working on ourselves and our organizations can be difficult, and our efforts may remain invisible until the positive effects begin to materialize. Yet this sort of daily practice is the soundest investment of precious time and energy. Developing even the most modest of insights and skills to improve ourselves and animal lives adds up. It also keeps us moving in the right direction: our own personal, professional, and organizational development. Focusing on our responsibility for making things better, especially animal well-being, is the way to the kind of future and the world we seek to create.

We are responsible. We alone (although together) are the determinants of our ability to create good and lasting change and overcome external challenges and critics (unless, of course, we can create mutually beneficial opportunities to collaborate). Individually and together, let's continue to do the work on ourselves and our organizations. Refrain from instilling power in external forces and sources, which are better employed to teach us as we sharpen our focus. Now is the time when we can lift our thoughts and ourselves and act accordingly. Let's get to it for the benefit of the animals and people we serve.

Without change there is no innovation, creativity, or incentive for improvement. Those who initiate change will have a better opportunity to manage the change that is inevitable.
—William Pollard

For more information on Excellence Beyond Compliance®, visit excellencebeyondcompliance.com.

2018 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.


Teh Aquarium Vet logoSomething Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"

In my last article, we introduced the concept of osmoregulation in fish, and how they survive in an aquatic environment. Osmoregulation is the active regulation of the osmotic pressure of an organism's body fluids to maintain the homeostasis of that organism's body water.

This month, we will look at freshwater fish. Remember that the internal environment of a fish is between 8 and 10 parts per thousand (ppt) salt (humans are 9 ppt, for comparison). Fresh water is 0 ppt (although in some parts of the world, it may be 1 to 2 ppt). Freshwater fish are, therefore, in a solution that is lower in salt levels than their body—i.e. hypoosmotic (or hypotonic) to the fish. This means that they are constantly fighting to prevent the loss of salts from their body (salt depletion), fluid overload (influx of water), and hypervolemia (increased blood volume). There is a constant pressure upon the gills to take up water from the environment with their surface area and very short distance (5 to 10 m) between the water (external environment) and the small blood vessels (capillaries) in the gills (internal environment). So, how do freshwater fish get rid of this excess water that is constantly migrating inward?

From the small quantities present in the water, the gills take up any monovalent ions, such as sodium (Na+), potassium (K+), and chloride (Cl-). Specialized cells called chloride cells are present in high numbers in the gills. Chloride ions are taken up by chloride cells in exchange for bicarbonate (HCO3-) loss. Sodium is taken up in an active process that may involve hydrogen (H+) or ammonium (NH4+) ions. These ion exchanges also help to maintain the acid/base balance of the fish—i.e. the body fluid pH.

Freshwater fish drink very little water—but from their food, they can absorb sodium and chloride ions across the esophageal wall. Water and all the monovalent and divalent ions are also absorbed across the intestinal wall. Potassium is largely absorbed from the intestinal tract.

The kidneys have a very high filtration rate to remove excess water. This produces massive quantities of dilute urine (2 to 6 ml/kg/hour). This represents up to 15 percent of the body weight of the fish per day. In comparison, humans produce less than 1 ml/kg/hour. There is almost complete reabsorption of sodium, potassium, and chloride ions. Hence, in freshwater fish, there are a large number of glomeruli (filtering apparatus) in the kidney.

The diagram below provides a summary of osmoregulation in freshwater fish.

It is for the above reasons that adding salt to the water of most freshwater fish may be beneficial in reducing osmotic stress. Simply adding salt (sodium chloride or NaCl) at the rate of 0.5 percent to 1.0 percent will assist in reducing osmoregulatory stress. A salt level of 0.5 percent is the same as 5 ppt (or 5 grams per liter of water).

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 The Aquarium Vet: as an Academy subscriber, you are now entitled to a discount on the e-quarist™ courses. We are also happy to offer one of our free monthly webinars.

For more information about the SDZGA discount, or anything about the e-quarist™ course, including next month's free webinar, please contact katrina@theaquariumvet.com.

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.


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