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San Diego Zoo Global Academy, October 2019. Photo of an African lion.

Institutional Insurance

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

If I had to describe the Academy in two words, they would be "institutional insurance." That may sound strange, but three recent events inspired this month's column: the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Annual Conference, a private story that did not make news, but could have, and a story that did make national news. Please read on, because the topic is important.

A few weeks ago, the Academy launched several new products at the AZA's national conference in New Orleans. Each of the new products was designed to help Academy institutions to better manage some of their risks. 

Earlier this year, we created a Contractor Employee Training and Tracking tool, so that Academy institutions can now use a mobile device to train, test, and track compliance of a given contractor's employees working on site at any institution. Protecting the institution's guests and property against liability is called "enterprise risk management," or ERM. ERM should be a priority for all of us. Fortunately, we now have some tools to reduce our enterprise risks. Here is a link to the courses page, with information and samples of the ERM-related online courses.

At the AZA conference, we also introduced a program called Emergency Animal Recall Training that animal care staff at San Diego Zoo Global have been developing for the past five years. The program teaches animal care staff how to condition an emergency recall. The idea is that the animal becomes so conditioned to the recall stimulus that when it hears it, the animal stops what it is doing and moves immediately from its habitat into its bedroom. The results are dramatic, and you can see a preview of this work here.

I can think of no higher priority for any of us than protecting animals and people—which brings me to the second story, which was shared with me at AZA by a dear friend of more than 30 years who directs a large zoo. He explained that just prior to the conference, a guest was seen jumping over a containment wall and moat, running into the elephant exhibit, slapping one of the elephants on its rear flank, and then darting out of the exhibit. Take a moment and think about the implications of that.

That story sent chills down my spine. Such a foolish act could have disastrous consequences, for the person and for the animal. Under such circumstances, being able to quickly and reliably call animals off exhibit is vitally important—and potentially life saving. Training animals on an emergency recall is our best option—and, at a minimum, it demonstrates to the public that your institution's senior leaders are both thoughtful and responsible.

Last Friday as I was driving home, a radio news story broke about an incident at another major zoo. I leaned forward and turned up the volume on the radio. By the time I got home, video images were all over the media. A woman had jumped over a public barrier in front of the zoo's African lion exhibit and began gyrating her arms and legs in a kind of a strange dance. She had managed to capture the mature male lion's full attention as she danced inches from the edge of the containment moat. One misstep and she could have fallen into the moat. The video cameras caught the entire incident—which, fortunately for everyone, ended without a tragic outcome.
We live in interesting times. News travels at the speed of light, and images often accompany the news story. Having the ability to immediately recall an animal to its bedroom to avoid a potential tragedy, as well as having complete and demonstrable training records, is zoological best practice. We have risks, and we must manage them. The Academy is here to help.

For more information about this article, please contact Gary Priest, San Diego Zoo Global Academy, at gpriest@sandiegozoo.org.

For information on how your institution can access this important new training, contact either Jon Prange at jprange@sandiegozoo.org or Linda Duca at lduca@cypherworx.com


Academy News

Association of Zoos & AquariumsThank You for Visiting Our Booth at the AZA Annual Conference   
Thank you also for your participation with the Academy, and for reading our newsletter. It was a great AZA Annual Conference—and for us, it was once again memorable. It is so important and enjoyable to be able to talk training with you—whether it is training for your employees, volunteers, or contractors; animal care training; animal welfare; emergency recall training; Safe Capture training; or more (there are a lot of training needs at institutions). We enjoyed some great conversations with our colleagues in the industry.


LinkedInNow You Can Follow the San Diego Zoo Global Academy on LinkedIn
The San Diego Zoo Academy is now on LinkedIn. We'll be featuring new posts frequently, highlighting Academy courses, including the new Safe Capture training. For regular updates, follow us on LinkedIn. Tell your friends in the animal care profession, and help us build an ever-expanding community of connections in the wildlife world.

For more information about our LinkedIn presence, please contact Becky Lynn at blynn@sandiegozoo.org.


Virginia Living MuseumSan Diego Zoo Global Academy Puts the Virginia Living Museum in the Spotlight
The Virginia Living Museum is part of the Academy's collaborative learning environment.


Academy Contributors

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

Ultraviolet Radiation (Part 4)

Ultraviolet (UV) globes or lamps will need to be replaced at maximum intervals of 12 months and, in some cases, as often as 6 months. Be guided by the manufacturer as to the lifetime of the globe. UV lamps contain mercury, so always consider the environment when disposing of used globes and lamps.

Most modern UV units will have a mechanism to clean the internal surfaces of the UV units. Any deposits on the surfaces will drastically reduce the UV effectiveness, as these will absorb the UV rays and cause more rapid aging of the lamp. Many systems these days have wipers that are either operated manually or are operated by electric motors. It is essential to follow the manufacturer's instruction manual carefully to maximize the disinfectant effect of a UV unit, as well as its life span.  

UV sensors are now available on most large units, and they will provide valuable feedback as to the functioning of the unit. This real-time monitoring is very useful. This may even include when to clean the quartz sleeve, which can get covered in mineral deposits that will reduce the UV output.

Use of Ultraviolet
UV is very effective for disinfecting water in displays, due to the lack of toxic residuals produced. The water may be used immediately and does not need to be held separately.

For effective use of UV units, they should be installed in series after ALL other filtration equipment—including ozone and carbon—and just before the water returns to the tank. The one exception is when using a large enough medium-pressure UV unit that will significantly increase the water temperature. Then, a chiller unit may need to be placed between the UV unit and the tank.

To maximize the effectiveness of a UV unit, it is advisable to have pre-filtration down to 10µm by using bag (sock) filters if needed.

It is important to note that UV is great for seawater, as it has none of the toxic residuals that may be associated with ozone. The only major disadvantage of UV is in the case of a power failure, it will immediately stop functioning.

Kill Rates
Generally, a UV unit is considered effective if it destroys 99.9% of a population of pathogens. This means that only 1 in 1,000 of the pathogens will remain after the UV treatment (a three-log reduction in pathogens).

UV is an excellent preventative measure, but has little in the way of treatment capability.

To calculate the required water flow through a UV unit, we go through a series of steps:

UV dose     =   UV Intensity   x    Exposure time
          W.sec / m2   =      W / m2     x    seconds

By knowing the required UV dose and UV intensity of the unit (consult the manufacturer), it is possible to calculate an exposure time in seconds that the water needs to stay in the UV unit chamber for effective sterilization. Doses of 70 to 100 mWsec/cm2 (mWs/cm2) are considered effective, and will kill most bacteria and algae—and some protozoans and viruses.

                                           Exposure time = UV dose  /  UV Intensity               

The next step is to calculate the dosing chamber volume (DCV).

DCV = Volume of the entire UV chamber LESS the volume of the quartz sleeve (containing the actual UV tube). Basically, this means subtracting one cylinder from a larger cylinder to give the volume that is occupied by the water passing through (= DCV). The manufacturer should be able to provide this figure.

Finally, calculate the water flow:

Water Flow = Dosing Chamber Volume /  Exposure time

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. The Aquarium Vet has a free Aquatic Animal Welfare Module (which focuses on fish and aquatic invertebrates), designed for aquariums and zoos. To register for this Aquatic Animal Welfare Module, go to our website.

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.


Storytelling Techniques—Shared by The Goodman Center

The Aquarium Vet logo

Six Questions All Good Stories Must Answer (Starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale)
By Andy Goodman, Director, The Goodman Center

Having worked closely with zoos and aquariums, as well as with nonprofits and cultural institutions of all stripes over the past 20 years, I can say with complete confidence that stories are your single most powerful communications tool. Stories connect with audiences on an emotional level, which makes them more memorable and more persuasive than any other form of communication. Think about it: when was the last time someone approached you at the water cooler and said, "Hey, have I got a pie graph for you"? Over the last two decades, I've conducted over 500 storytelling workshops across the US and around the world, so I've done a good deal of thinking about how to teach this craft. Recently, I discovered a new tool that is helpful in conveying the essential elements of a good story—and I'm delighted to share that discovery with you in this month's article.

I have a confession to make: I'm hooked on trailers—and not the kind you hitch to your car or truck. It's probably because I love going to the movies, and a well-made trailer is a tantalizing taste of pleasure soon to come. It occurred to me recently, however, that a movie trailer could also be a useful tool when it comes to teaching storytelling. Think about it: at its essence, a trailer is designed to sell you a story, and it has 2 to 3 minutes (in theaters) or 30 to 60 seconds (on TV) to convince you it's a good story.

What defines a good story? There are numerous elements that contribute to any story's success, but one yardstick to measure that success is to ask how well the story answers six questions that the audience, whether they are consciously aware of it or not, will definitely ask:

  1. Who is the story about?
  2. What do they want?
  3. What stands in their way that makes the pursuit interesting?
  4. How do they respond to those barriers or obstacles?
  5. What happens in the end?
  6. What does it mean?

I was reminded of these essential questions last week when I saw the trailer for Ford v. Ferrari, a feature film starring Matt Damon and Christian Bale, due in theaters in November. Based on a true story, the movie follows Damon and Bale (portraying auto racing legends Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles, respectively) as they try to win the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans. Take two and a half minutes right now, and watch the trailer here. Then come back, read the rest of this article, and see which questions the trailer answers (and which it deliberately does not answer), to ensure that you buy a ticket in November.

Did you watch? Okay, now I have another confession: I'm a fan of both Matt Damon and Christian Bale, so I'd be primed to see them together on screen even if the movie was about who could make paint dry faster. That said, now that you've seen the trailer, let's look at how it takes on the six questions:

1. Who is the story about?
To get into a story, the audience needs to see people with whom they can identify, or who will serve as their guide through the landscape of the narrative. No matter what your subject or message, when you tell a story, the first question in the audience's mind will always be "Who is the story about?"

The trailer introduces us to several colorful characters—including such legendary names as Henry Ford and Lee Iacocca—but clearly, this story focusses on Shelby and Miles. However, even when a story is about a group of people working together toward a single goal—be it a bunch of toys in Toy Story, a notorious family in The Godfather, or the Jedi of Star Wars—the audience is more likely to enter the world of the story when they can view it primarily from one person's perspective (for example, Woody, Michael Corleone, or Luke Skywalker). I haven't seen Ford v. Ferrari yet, but based on the trailer alone, I would say Carroll Shelby is the character most likely to answer question 1.

2. What do they want?
Once the audience knows whom to focus on, their next question is, "What do they want?" The opening moments (or paragraphs) of a good story will make it crystal clear what the person desires and, at the same time, will give the audience a reason to care about the outcome.

In Ford v. Ferrari, Carroll Shelby is given an assignment by Lee Iacocca, then a vice president at Ford: build a car that will beat Ferrari in the 1966 Le Mans endurance race. Even though Ford was a manufacturing Goliath in the 1960s, Ferrari was a perennial winner at Le Mans and the heavy favorite to triumph once again. This allows Shelby and his team to play the underdog/David role, which is inherently appealing to most audiences.

3. What stands in their way?
As the characters in a story pursue their goal, they must run into obstacles, surprises, or something that makes the audience sit up and take notice. In short: stories don't get interesting until "I want!" runs into "You can't!"

What makes Ford v. Ferrari so promising is the number of "You can'ts" that Shelby will have to overcome to achieve his goal. He tells Lee Iacocca that you can't win with speed alone—you need the right kind of driver. (And we quickly see that Ken Miles, who may be the right driver, is not the cooperative "puppy dog" that will be easily convinced to join the team.) Miles tells Shelby that he can't build a car that can beat Ferrari in 90 days, especially if it's Ford doing the building. And let's not forget the scenes of race cars exploding into balls of flame that remind us what happens when their drivers meet the ultimate "You can't."

4. How do they respond to those barriers or obstacles?
Now we're getting to the essence of storytelling. How the people in your story deal with obstacles placed in their way will reveal their true nature (or tell us more about the team/organization they represent.) Do they cave under pressure or do they persevere? Do they play by the rules or bend them to their purposes? Do they try to succeed on their own or rally a team to help them?

Ken Miles may punch Carroll Shelby in the face early on in the story, but Shelby clearly uses some combination of charm, persistence, and sheer willpower to bring Miles onto the team. Ford may be better known for making family sedans, but Henry Ford II assures Shelby they also know how to win wars. And then there's my favorite line in the entire trailer, where Shelby directly answers question 4: "We're lighter, we're faster, and if that don't work, we're nastier."

5. What happens in the end?
Nothing fancy here: once you've established who the story is about, what they want, and what they must do along the way, it's time to let the audience know if they have reached the goal…or not. Good stories don't require a happy ending—sometimes we learn more by not getting what we want—but your audience will insist on a clear resolution. (There are exceptions, of course—Christopher Nolan's Inception being a prominent example—but if you're more interested in moving people to action than generating a vigorous debate on Twitter, a clear answer to question 5 will better serve your purposes.)

Since movie trailers are designed to sell (and not tell) a story, this question should not be answered, and the Ford v. Ferrari trailer appropriately steers clear of the finish line. Want to know if they win the big race? Buy a ticket.

6. What does it mean?
In the end, answering this question is your most important job as a storyteller. When the conclusion of your story is reached and the final line is spoken, if your audience doesn't know exactly why they took this journey, it won't matter how diligently you answered questions 1 through 5.

As with question 5, the Ford v. Ferrari trailer does not (and should not) provide a clear answer to the ultimate meaning of the story. To do so would give away the ending, but the trailer does provide some intriguing hints. The movie's title alone evokes "David v. Goliath," which suggests we will be reminded that no matter how great the challenges we face in our personal journeys, there is always a way. And as the final scene in the trailer suggests—when Henry Ford II bursts into tears—it helps to have a sense of humor.

For more information about The Goodman Center, visit thegoodmancenter.com.

In February 2018, we introduced Andy Goodman of The Goodman Center as a new contributor. As a refresher, here is the link to the archive of Academy newsletters, where one can access all of the past articles by Andy Goodman, including the February, April, July, and October 2018 issues, and now February 2019, May 2019 and August 2019 too: SDZG Academy Newsletter Archive.

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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