Getting Better All the Time: Meaningful Holiday Gifts in Service of Animals and their Well-being
By 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
Working with and on behalf of animals always involves gift giving, in the form of giving of ourselves in service of animals and their well-being. It's what we do—an integral part of caregiving.
Here are some wonderful gifts to share with colleagues, adopt organizationally, and use to give the animals entrusted to your care the best quality of life you can—because you care, and you can.
The Five Opportunities to Thrive
Revisit the landmark Five Opportunities to Thrive developed by Greg Vicino and Lance Miller, Ph.D., which provides a sound framework for good animal welfare policies and practices:
- Opportunity for a well-balanced diet: fresh water and a suitable, species-specific diet will be provided in a way that ensures full health and vigor, both behaviorally and physically.
- Opportunity to self-maintain: an appropriate environment including shelter and species-specific substrates that encourage opportunities to self-maintain.
- Opportunity for optimal health: rapid diagnosis and treatment of injury or disease, while providing supportive environments that increase the likelihood of healthy individuals.
- Opportunity to express species-specific behavior: quality spaces and appropriate social groupings will be provided that encourage species-specific behaviors at natural frequencies and of appropriate diversity, while meeting social and developmental needs.
- Opportunities for choice and control: providing conditions in which animals can exercise control and make choices to avoid suffering and distress, and make behavior meaningful.
For more, go to the Academy's Animal Welfare Professional course, available at http://sdzglobalacademy.org/courseAnimalWelfare.html and my December 2015 column, Opportunities Abound, available at December 2015 Academy Newsletter.
USDA on Primates, Semi-Aquatic Animals, and Mammals that Fly or Glide
The agency has supplemented its previous dog- and bear-related Animal Care Aids with a series of primate documents and others on some unique semi-aquatic animals like beavers, capybaras, hippopotamuses, river otters, and tapirs, as well as one on mammals that fly and glide like bats, flying squirrels, and flying lemurs. As noted previously in my November 2018 column, Serving Gratefully Is the Highest Form of Giving Thanks, available at: November 2018 Academy Newsletter, these guidance documents can help you help animals in many different ways. And, if you have questions, or even suggestions for improving these agency releases or covering other animals, or simply want to thank the agency for sharing this information, email them at: CenterforAnimalWelfare@usda.gov.
With thanks to Patricia A. Milito for her assistance, here are some gifts worth reading and sharing.
Primate Care Topics
Special Environmental Needs:
If you have any of the species covered in these guidance documents, take the time to review this information and heed the lessons contained therein. Experience suggests that this sort of proactive assessment, in light of agency guidance, is most effective—and clearly preferable to looking at them in retrospect to analyze a more challenging situation.
AZA Animal Care Manuals
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Animal Care Manuals provide even more extensive guidance on good practices for species, with published manuals. The Animal Care Manuals published to date, status updates on those in development, and additional background information can be found at: https://www.aza.org/animal-care-manuals. Thanks to AZA, you need not be a member to access and use the manuals. Anyone can draw upon the expertise of the biologists, veterinarians, nutritionists, reproduction physiologists, behaviorists, and researchers involved in crafting the manuals, and promote "excellence in animal care and welfare." The best thing about these is that they are evolving "works in progress"—updated as new, good practices emerge.
Through the years, there have been many times that these manuals have proven invaluable in evaluating and improving situations under review.
The Principles of Constructive Engagement
This is the gift that gets us through, makes us better and stronger, and adds meaning to our work for animals—now and in every new year.
- Think about ways in which you can improve, and how the situation can be used to help animals. Consciously examining how one can improve and intentionally seeking ways to use the situation to help animals puts you in the best possible frame of mind and, with persistence, unlocks ideas for improvement. With practice, the ideas and potential improvements just keep getting better. (Of course, it is helpful to have an accurate and honest sense of the causes underlying the challenge.)
- Make those ideas even better (collaboratively, whenever possible), and put the best ones into a plan. Take the ideas, apply the Beatles' advice in the song "Hey Jude" and "make it better"—collaboratively, when possible. The best ideas should be combined into a plan of action.
- Take action (collaboratively, whenever possible). Act on the idea or plan. Make it happen.
- Keep thoughts and actions focused solely on getting better and helping animals. Remind yourself of this constantly. Focus on getting better and serving animals.
- Be grateful that you can change yourself for the better and, in doing so, help animals. We are all very fortunate to be able to use and improve ourselves in order to better serve and help animals. Be ever grateful, continuously improve, and make an even greater difference in serving animals and their interests.
See Turning Challenges into Opportunities: the Principles of Constructive Engagement, available at November 2015 Academy Newsletter.
An Enlightened Caregivers Creed
This is another tool for maintaining a constructive consciousness, as we uplift our efforts on behalf of animals.
- We appreciate and understand that people are concerned about the well-being of animals (whether in our care, in the wild, within other settings, and/or in our homes).
- We share that concern and constructively act upon it every day.
- We are humbled and grateful for the opportunity to dedicate ourselves to the well-being of the animals in our loving care.
- While respectful of differences, the one difference we focus on daily is the positive difference we can make in the lives of animals—here and everywhere.
- We thoughtfully consider any reasonable concern, and constantly review ongoing developments here and throughout the world, so as to continuously improve our service on behalf of animals.
- We put proactive thinking into good practices as we change and innovate in ways that incorporate the best interests of the animals.
See An Enlightened Caregiver's Creed on Serving Animal Interests and Well-being, available at June 2017 Academy Newsletter.
We can use these meaningful gifts to give of ourselves in service of animals and their well-being every single day. Happy holidays!
Giving is the master key to success in all applications of human life.
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.
Something Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"
I thought I would digress from my usual fishy talk to discuss something that is a very important life skill, especially as we all-too-rapidly race to the end of another year: goal setting—something that will fast-track your life. I am not talking about the promises made at 10 minutes till midnight on New Year's Eve, but real goal setting—written goals, not dreams. What I try to do is set aside at least a few hours in a quiet area at the start of each year. I often put on good classical music—with no phone or screen—and use an old-fashioned piece of paper and a pen.
Start at the top and write down everything you want to do, experience, achieve, obtain, etc. in the next 10 years. Write them one below another—not across the page. Think big: if that little voice in your head starts saying you cannot do that or own that, ignore that voice—write it down. Do not think about how you can achieve it; that will come later. Keep writing as long as the ideas flow, and then sit for at least another 15 minutes and others will come to mind. If you cannot come up with a list of 50 to 100 things to do, experience, achieve, or obtain in the next 10 years of your life, then you have not been thinking big enough.
Next, I go back to the top of my list and write a 1, 3, 5, or 10 next to each goal—indicating years. Then, I take all my one-year goals and write them down in an Excel spreadsheet or Word document, and sort them into groups such as Personal (usually revolving around losing some weight!), Family, Business, Financial, etc. This really helps you to focus.
Then, I print this list. I often laminate it and place it in my shower. Reading your goals every day will really keep you focused on taking the necessary steps to make them happen. Always work on the one goal that could completely transform your life, and just watch the results.
Next year, go through this process again, but start from scratch. What I do after I have made a new list is pull out my old written list from the previous year, in case I missed something. Do this each year—and I promise you that in five years, you will barely recognize your current life.
The Aquarium Vet wishes you a very happy holiday season, and all the best for 2019. Make it your best year yet!
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Aquarium Vet website at theaquariumvet.com.au.